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POETRY 
A MAGAZINE OF PERSE 
VOLUME III 




AiO^^azitie of 'Wse 


Foxmded by Harriet Monroe 


VOLUME LII 
April - September, 1938 



232 EAST ERIE STREET 

CHICAGO 



Copyright, 1938 
by 

W S Monroe and E S Fetcher, Executors 


ERRATA 

Page 45, line 8 For Atbert%*s read AHola- 
gu%rre*s. 

Page 85: Stanza dmsion after line 12. No space 
between lines 13 and 14 
Page 186: Stanza division after line 12. 

Page 245, line 36: For AJesits read Alcestts 
Page 278, lines 27-28: For ikfac/mA read MocLmA 



^®oeljy 

A Magazine of \^rse 


Editor 

rEORGB DlLIjON' 

Associate Editors 

Jessica Nelson North 
Peter DeVries 

Business Manager 

Geraldine Udell 

Eastern Business 
Representative 

Amy Bonner 

Advisory Committee 

Eunice Tietjens 

Lew Sarett 

Associate Committee of 

The University of Chicago 

Robert Morss Lovett 
Percy H. Boynton 
Thornton Wilder 

Administrative Committee 

Charles H. Hamill 
Arthur T. Leonard 


To have great poets 

there must be great audiences too 

Whitman 


[i] 



SUBSCRIBERS -TO THE FUND 


Mrs. and Mrs. Charles H. Hamill 
Mrs. Martin A, Ryerson 
Mr. Edwin S. Fetcher 
Mr. William S. Monroe 
Mr. Frederic Clay Bartlett 
Mr. S. O. Levinson 
Mrs. Florence Mixter 
Mrs. Walter S. Brewster 
*Mr. Henry J. Patten 
Mrs. Laird Bell 
-I Mrs. Clyde M. Carr 
Mrs. Marjorie R. Newman 
Mr. and Mrs. Wm. A. Nitze 
Mrs. Fortunate Jerace 
The University of Chicago 
Mrs. Francis Biddle 
Miss Florence Ripley Mastin 
The Society of Midland Authors 
The Friday Club of Chicago 
The Carnegie Corp. of New York 
Miss Joanna Fortune 
Mrs. Hugh Bullock 
Mrs. James Herbert Mitchell 
Mr. John P. Welling 
♦Deceased 


Mrs. Inez Cunningham Stark 
Mr. Wiilliam P. Sidley 
Mr. Alfred T. Carton 
Col. A. A. Sprague 
Mr. Charles B. Goodspeed 
Mr.^'Edward L. Ryerson, Jr. 
Mr. Ha'rold F. McCormick 
Mr. R. Douglas Stuart 
Mr. John H. Newman 
Mr. Edward Eagle Brown 
The Friends of Literature 
Mrs. Joseph H. Biggs 
Mrs. Sidney Haskins 
Mr. David A. Smart 
Mr. Thomas E. Donnelley 
Mr. Thomas A. Larremore 
Mrs. Joy Morton 
Mrs. Arthur Meeker 
Mr. Arthur Meeker, Jr. 

Mrs. Clay Judson 
Mrs. Cyrus Bentley 
Miss Naomi Donnelley 
Mr. J. B. Cook 
The Friends of American 
Writers 


To these, who have remained loyal to Poetrt and its purposes 
over many years; to the Friday Club and Society of Midland Au- 
thors, who have donated prizes and other benefits ; and particularly 
to the Carnegie Corporation of New York, whose generous 
have enabled Poetry to continue, the editors of the magazine wish 
to express their appreciation and that of the poets we have 
published. 


The death of Henry J. Patten, which occurred on February 24v 
is a severe loss to the cultural life of his eommunrty. He was a 
guarantor of Poetry from its earliest years and a good fnend of 
its founder. Since her death he had been an active member of 
our Financial Committee, working to raise funds for the perpetua- 
tion of the magazine. 



.CONTENTS OP VOLUME LII 


VERSE 


Barber Mary Finette 

Nantucket Sojourn : 

Returning . .... ... 

Survivals . . . 

Barnard, Ma^ * . 

Four 3?oems: 

Storm, Remarks on Poetry and the Physical World 
The Tears of Princesses ... . . 

Provincial II . . 

^oggs, Tom 

Three Poems 

Valley, Prairie 

For a New Boy . . . 

Bohni, Bhzabeth 

Quiet Morning 

Stone Walls , , ... . , , . 

The Unknown . ... 

Waste . . . . . . 

The Milkweed Pod . 

September Water . . ... . . 

Bamberger, Carl 

Inbred ... 

Boothe, James 

*wo Poems. 

Having Talked WSth Men, Within the Houses, Love « 
Brown, Sterling A*. 

The Young Ones 

Bulosan, Carlos 

Inese Are Also Living . 

Burklundt Carl Edwin' 

Song for a Night 

Clapp, Frederick Mortimer 

Mii^ided 


D„ H.' 

Two Poems. 
Sigel XV . 
Fxom Episode I 

Daly, James 

City . . . 

deFord, Miriam Allen 
Litany 


Page 

266 

267 


256 

257 

258 


62 

63 


318 

318 

319 

320 
320 


323 


254 

189 

259 

252 

265 


139 

140 


178 


liii] 


203 



Page 


DeJon^ David Cornel 

dimple Legend 

. . . . 70 

DeuUcK Bahette, 

Tbres Poexs: is 

Midsummer Night, Truro Hour , . . . . 

At the Cape 

. ... 250 

. ... 251 

Duncat^ Thomas W, 

The Strolling Girls . . 

. . . . 73 

Bstavan, Lawrence. 

It Is My F^ult . . ... .... 

. ... 183 

Evans, Abbie Huston' 

Five Foexs: 

County Miracle 

Slow Gain .......... 

First Night of FaU 

Time’s Citizen 

To a Forgotten Dutch Painter ... . . 

... 307 

. . . 309 

. ... 310 

. ... 310 

. . . 311 

Feannj^ Kenneth 

Two PoExs: 

Hold the Wire 

A Dollar’s Worth of Blood, Please .... 

. 173 

. 175 

FiUtell, Lincoln'. 

Two PoBxs: 

Echoes from a Precipice 

Church Picnic 

128 

... 129 

Frankenherg, Lloyd: 

Gone to Summer . 

... 134 

FunaroiF, S.' 

Strange World ... . . .... 

To Fraerico Garda Lorca 

... 138 

. . . 18S 

Gtddtt. Virgil- 

Stumnoas at mght .... 

... 194 

Gerry, W. H.' 

Cemetery 

, 79 

Griffin, Btieabelh F* 

m Flood 

... 23 

Gund, Herman 

Two Poems: 

Carnival 

Queens 

... 322 
... 322 

Gnstafson, Ralph' 

Setbcape ............. 

. . f . 313 

Hayes* Alfred: 

' A Little Nlghtnuide . 

, a . . 177 


[ivl 



Page 


nays, H. R, 

Defenseless Spring 

. . 20% 

Hendficks, Walter 

Three Poems: 

Limitation, Spider Against Fly, Bird in My Room . . 

, . 130 

Heywood, Terence* 

Two Poems: 

A Flara!ingo*s Egg, Rags of Time 

The Whale . . # • . . 

. . 22 
. . 253 

Hudeburg, Charles 

Two Poems; 

Last Year's Flowers Photographed . . ... 

A Song 

. . 192 

193 

Kees, Weldon* 

Two Poems: 

The Inquiry 

Poem . • 

196 
. . 197 

Keith, Joseph Joel 

Four Poems: 

To Rise, Of One Unwed 

The Sister of Witches, The Farmer ... ... 

. . 260 

. . 261 

Krieger, Norton* 

Comtmon Threat 

184 

Larssoih Raymond B. F.; 

Compline of the Men of Peace .... ... 

. . 179 

Lewis, H. K.- 

Five Poems: 

Farmhands* Refrain 

Lest Sympathy Function 

Oink 

I^reedon^ Inc. 

Don't Judge Him Too Harshly 

. . as 

. . 117 

. . 118 
. 120 
. . 121 

Lewis, May* 

Three Poems: 

Circular Pattern 

Progress 

Strflmrs . 

. . 324 

325 

. . 326 

Link, Seymour Gorddeni 

The Sculptor Year 

. . 195 

Lowenfets, Walter: 

Homer 

. . 255 

Maas, WUlard* 

Journey and Return 

Matam, Charles* 

Two Poems: 

Spring Grinding, Night on the Mountain ..... 

, . 209 

. . 78 


[V] 



Page 


Mallalieu, H, B.* 

Three Poems l-III 


81 


Mansfield, Margery: 

It Stopped Ticking . 

Masters, EdMr Lee: 

Two Poems: 
Milwaukee Avenue . 
Jake Mann . . . 

Sunlmn Realms I-II 


Mayo, B. L. 

Colloquy 

McCarthy, John Russell^ 

Teses Poems: 

O Idiot Heart, Have No Fear . 
Friendship Broken ... 


Morga^ Edwin- 

Death of Hercules . . . 

Neville, Helen 

Time’s Embrace . 

0*Donnell. Georze Marion 
Talk of Friends . 

Paul, Dorothy- 

Dark Mother . . . 

Pergament, Lola 

My So Much Loved Variety 

Petri, Lori- 

Gardener . . . 

PMegfsr, Thelma. 

Octogenarian . . . 


PUhn, William 
Speech 


Prohoseki Frederic 

Four Songs I-IV 

Quinpsr Kerker- 

Gautier Visited Sffein 

Rago, Henry: 

Invocation for a Book 


Rexroth, Kenneth* 

From ^‘The Crisis” I-III 


270 

1 

3 

272 

123 

268 

269 

14 
191 

76 

15 
204 
137 

69 

182 

16 
68 
21 


[vi ] 


200 



Page 


Roberi^ Michael 

Three Poems; 


St. Ursanne . . ... 

Bonneval ... ... 

Voices of Earth anH Air .... 

Mediterranean • . . 

. - 8 

. . 9 

... 10 
... 327 

Rosenberg^ Harold 

The End of the World 

... 206 

Roskolenko, Harry • * 

Sea and Land . 

. m 

Salt, Sydney 

The Ancient Course Is Here , ... 

. . ^ 80 

Scott, WinHeld Townley 

Annual legend .... 

Notes for a Future Ballet 1-5 . ... 

... 24 

... 57 

Shelley, Melvin G* 

Blond Cat . . .... ... 

... 205 

Spain, Richard Leon 

Night Journey .... 

... 11 

Speyer, Leonora 

Two Poems* 

The Voice 

Star-fear . . 

, , , 1A 

... 75 

Starred Vincent 

Tw^o Poems * 

Hell Said the Duchess, To Wicky* My Wire . 

... 262 

Steamy Florence Dickinson- 

if in the Language of the Pohshed Leaves . . 

77 

Stepanchev, Stephen 

Words to Fix Time 

Approach, Program: Arranged 

Arocalypse ............ 

... 125 
. . 126 

Hi»r Now the Gates 

... 127 

Stephens, William 

Two Poems; 

The Winning of the West, Strange Nature . . 

... 72 

Sutton, Kathleen: 

This Is the Season 

... 20 

Symon^ Julian 

Poem 

... 314 

Thoma^ Dylan 

Four Poems I-IV .......... 

... 247 


[tH] 



Paoe 


Thomas, Keith 

The Mate 

... 133 

Todrin^ Boris 

Two Poems: 

The Flight 

Spanish Sowing: 1938 

... 64 

... 67 

Turbyfili, Mark: 

Hardy Perennials 

... 190 

Vntermeyer. Jean Starr 

Kristin's Song ... 

... 7 

Van Ghent, Dorothy: 

Depositions tot the Fatherland 1-4 . .... 

... 186 

Van Keuren, W, G,* 

To a Stranger in Passing 

... 321 

Walker, Margaret' 

The Struggle Staggers Us 

. . 198 

Warreih James E., Jr.* 

Pather Sleeping .... • 

... 271 

Weismilter, Edvsardi 

The Weathbk of the Dawh. 

Shadow, The Shape of Mountains 

We Walk in Water 

... 135 

... 136 

Welch, Marie Del,: 

The Single Name 

* . . 124 

Wheelwright, John: 

Two Sonnets feom ''Mxbrors of Venus”- 

Kin, Link 

... 132 

Wilder, Charlotte 

Sanctuary 

... 202 

Willums, Oscar* 

The Past Is Dragging Statues 

The Spritely Dead . . . 

Inderondence Day 

The £>ream 

"Why the Sea Is Sair ....... 

Portnut of Reality 

Man and Squirrel 

Summer Day 

... 328 
. . 328 

... 330 
. 330 
. , 331 

... 332 

... 333 

Wrynn^ Anthony : 

Fxve Poems: 

The Bright Prw 

An Abandoned Settiement, The Last Swimmer . . . 

Forest Womain*s Exptoation to a Wanderer . . . 

Samt John in the Wilderness ....... 

... 25 

. . 26 
... 27 

... 28 


[viu] 



Wyatt, Edith Frankhn 
Translations . 


131 


Young, Anne 

The Willow Tree 


12 


PROSE 


Reviews: 

Harriet Monroe Robert Morss Lovett 

A Poefs Life Seventy Years in a Changing World, by Harriet 
Monroe 

Two Methods . . Samuel French Morse 

Poems, by Rex Warner 

^Plenty of News** T. C. Wilson 

Letters from Iceland, by W. H. Auden and Louis MacNeice 

Facing the Guns ... ...... Theodore Roetkke 

And Spann Sings Fifty Loycdist Ballads, adapted by American 
poets, edited by M, J, Bernadete and Rolfe Humphries 

Another Exile Willtam M. Sale, Jr. 

Heinrich Heine Paradox and Poet {The Life and The Poems), 
by Louis Unteimeyer 

The Single Conscience ........ Stanley J, Kumts 

From These Roots, by Mary M, Colum 

One View of Housman Lawrence Leighton 

A. B, Housman, by A. S. F. Gow 


Reviews: 

**Lost Between Wars** ...... 

U, S. I., by Muriel Rukeyser 
Ra;raer HeppenstalFs Poetry .... 

Sebastian, by Rayner Heppenstall 
The Sources of Our Thought .... 

The Modern Mind, by Michael Roberts 

The Muse and Edmund Wilson .... 
The Triple Thmkers, by Edmund Wilson 


Willard Maas 
William Gilmore 
Reuel Denney 


T. C. Wilson 


30 

36 

39 

43 

46 

86 

94 

101 

104 

106 

144 


Reviews: 

Meaning and Being ....... 

Land of^the Free, by Archibald Macl.eish 

Natural History 

Natural History, by Raymond Holden 
Aldington 1938 

The Crystal World, by Richard Aldington 

A Notable Verse Pl^ 

Robin Landing, by Stanley Young 

In Challenge Not Defense 


Babette Deutsch 153 
. . Reuel Denney 1S6 

, . Kerker Qumn 160 

. . Ruth Lechktner 164 

Archibald MacLeish 212 


Bread and Poetry 


Alfred Kreyniborg 220 



Poetry Project . 
A Brief Statement 


Page 

Malcolm Cowley 224 
. Wtllard Maas 227 


Reviews. 

A Nice After-Dinner Scold . John Wheelwright 

Bullinger Bound and Other Poems » by Beonard Bacon 

Armored Car Robbery S. FunarofF 

The Day's Work, by Oscar Brynes 

Echo Answers . ^ J. N* N, 

Yearns En^ by* Josephine W. Johnson 

Fusion and Confusion ... P. DeV. 

The Garden of Disorder and Other Poems, by Charles Henri 
Ford; 

Christopher Columbus and Other Poems, by Sydney Salt 


229 

230 
233 
236 


The Federal Poets^ Number 


John Peale Bishop 276 


Is Indeed 5 5. J. Hayakawa 284 

Collected Poems, by E. E, Cummings 

Reviews' » 

Prophecy and Fact Samuel French Morse 292 

Trial of a Judge, by Stephen Spender 

An Intellectual Poet Ruth Lechlitner 297 

Said Before Sunset, by Frederidk Mortimer Clapp 

Two Antholones Arthur Meeker, Jr. 299 

American Naval Songs and Ballads. Edited by Robert W. 
Neeser; 

Voices from the Fields Country Songs by Farming People, 
Edited by Russell Lord 

The God in the Car . Harold Rosenberg 334 

A Letter from Archibald MacLeish ........... 342 


Another Chance 


Ezra Pound 344 


Reviews: 

A Lost Address ...... ... Babette Deutsch 

Selected Poems, by John Gould Fletcher 

More of the Same Rolfe Humphries 

New Writing V, Spring 1938. Edited by John Lehmann 

Well-made Lyrics , . Anne Chanmng 

WintW’Buming, Lindley Williams Hubbell 
**Every Word Is Intentional” . . . Edgar Lee Masters 

The World at My Shoulder, by Eunice Tietjens 


347 

351 

354 

356 


l^csws Notes 51, 110, 166, 240. 382, 360 

Notes on Contributors . 54, 112, 169, 243, 304, 362 

Books Received \ . 56, 114, 172, 246, 306, 364 


[x] 



POETRY 
A MAGAZINE OF VERSE 
VOLUME III 




VoL LII 


No. I 


26th Year of *Publtcatian 

POETRY for APRIL 1938 


Two Poems , . . - Edgar Lee Masters 1 

Milwaukee Avenue — ^Jake Mann 

Kristin’s Song Jean Starr Untermeyer 7 

Three Poems . , . . , Michael Roberts 8 

St. Ursanne — ^Bonneval — ^Voices of Earth and Air 

Night Journey Richard Leon Spain 11 

The Willow Tree * Anne Young 12 

Death of Hercules ... Ed^imn Morgan 14 

Dark Mother . . ... ... Dorothy Paul 15 

Four Songs I-IV. . Frederic Prokosch 16 

This Is the Season . . Kathleen Sutton 20 

Invocation for a Book ... ... Henry Rago 21 

Two Poems . Terence Hey^wood 22 

A Flamingo’s Egg — ^Rags of Time 

In Flood . . . , ... Elizabeth F. Griffin 23 

Annual Legend .... Winfield Townley Scott 24 

Five Poems . . . . . . . Anthony Wrynn 25 

The Bright Prey — An Abandoned Settlement — The Last 
Swimmer — Forest Woman’s Explanation to a Wanderer — 
Saint John in the Wilderness 
Reviews : 

Harriet Monroe . Robert Morss Lovett 30 

Two Methods . . . . . Samuel French Morse 36 

‘Tlenty of News” ... T. C. Wilson 39 

Facing the Guns Theodore Roethke 43 

Another Exile William M, Sale, Jr. 46 

News Notes . .... 51 

Notes on Contributors . .54 

Books Received ....... . . . . . 56 


The Pegasus on the Cover by Eric Gill 

Published monthly. Editorial and Publication 0£Bices, 232 East Ene Street. Chicajg^^ 
Illinois. Eastern Business Representative, Amy Bonner, 12 West 58 Street, New York 
City. Yearly subscription rates In the United States, Mexico, Cuba and American 
Possessions $3 00; in all other countries in the Postal Union. $3 25. 

Manuscripts must he accompanied by a stamped sel£*addressed envelope, or by 
mternatiottal coupons from writers living abroad; otherwise we must decline to return 
them. Payment is made on publication. 

Entered as second class matter, November 15, 1912, at the postoffice at Chicago, 
Illinois, under Act of March 3, 1879. 

Copyright, 1938, by W. S. Monroe and E. S, Fetcher, Executors 
dll rights reserved 




POET 

A MAGAZiNE OF 

VOL. LII 


R Y 

VERSE 

NO. I 


APRIL 1938 


TWO POEMS 

MILWAUKEE AVENUE 

A SPHERING sky, like a drop curtain hangs 
Over, behind red buildings — a dome of blue 
Up here above Milwaukee Avenue, 

Where snow flies and the blast harangues. 

Down in the Loop the forty storey spire 
Proves how the old days are estranged; 

Nothing much here is changed. 

This street escaped the Fire. 

This is a part of Norway, Germany, 

Where markets, stores and local advocats, 

Where restaurants and stove-heated flats 
Remain much as they used to be. 


[ 1 ] 



POETRY : A Magazine of Verse 


The same broad faces walk here as of yore ; 

Polish and Swedish voices can be heard, 

And racket from the pavement, stirred 
By trucks, by carts from door to door. 

Here in the market window is half a steer 
Hanging with sheep all frosted by dressed fowls; 
Here the sign creaks, as winter howls, 

Here are warm rooms for wine and beer. 

All this transports the memory, and remakes 
The past into the present, as in a dream 
One walks here, smelling steam 
Of coffee, pork and cakes. 

But how this zero weather through leather nips 
The hands, and stings uncovered ears, 

And brings to eyes the tears, 

And flaps a coat about the hips I 

One^s face grows redder than a winter haw. 

And from one’s nose hang icicles. 

To push against this blast soon tells 
In frozen cheeks, blood raw. 

Into some near saloon then: here is one. 

It is the same as in the former da3rs: 

The sanded floor, the mirror, the displays 
Of bottles, and the quaint orchestrion; 

m 



Edgar Lee Masters 


The cuckoo clock with rusted weights and chains, 
The paintings of Andromeda and Bismarck, 

Or Tam 0)*Shanter, flying the cuttysark, 

The marbled frost upon the window panes; 

The cannon stove on which a kettle seethes, 

And the warm corner where 

The drunkard sleeps, whose care 

Is drugged, who snores, who deeply breathes. 

The bowl of Tom and Jerry on the bar, 

The cheese and ham, the beef, free lunch, 
Which one can leisurely munch, 

And smoke a strong cigar. 

And talk meanwhile to the bartender, worn 
From years here; yet to ask and find 
He cannot bring to mind 
Gus Lenke or John Horn. 

JAKE MANN 

I*m sending here Jake Mann’s obituary, 

About a half a column in the News^ 

Printed this week, as you will see. 

Note that it mentions he was dghty-four, 

And a lawyer of prominence, whose 
Career stretched back to fifty years and more, 
And that he was a wondrous orator 

[ 3 ] 



POETRY: A Magazine of Verse 


On the stump, and used to go 
To national conventions, used to frame 
The platforms of his party — npte all this, 

And that he had a state-wide fame. 

Note it, but you know how to look below 
These lifeless things, and see the writer wrote 
By copying stuff, and didn^t know 
What Jake Mann was, could only quote 
From the history of the county of Bureau. 

He was a stalwart man. His massive head 
Rested on broad shoulders, and he walked 
Straight as a soldier with a lawyer’s pride. 

He looked right at you when he talked 

With ashes in which the embers were half dead. 

But he talked little in this his eventide. 

His manner seemed to say he knew 
Wisdoms that words could not communicate, 

Or wisdoms that our generations wouldn’t 
Understand or care for or tolerate. 

It seemed at times he wanted to speak, but couldn’t. 
He acted like a philosopher who has come, 

Long after death, from traveling other spheres, 

And goes about just looking, and who’s dumb, 
Choked with rich reasons out of tested years. 

He looked as if he knew that many words 
Would be but mist trying to catch blackbirds, 



Edgar Lee Masters 


Or net a summer fly; 

And that few v^ords would so condense 
His sum of things that they would not supply 
Meaning to any lesser intelligence. 

So he told funny stories, and drank much booze 
All day at the bar of Sandy Hughes. 

When the War roared his eyes just said, “oh, yes.^^ 

When later at Sandy’s bar 

Talk ran of communism, of the distress 

Of the country, he just looked and smiled. 

You will observe this notice mentions 
None of these things, nor how he whiled 
Full four years at the bar of Sandy Hughes, 
Sitting and looking, drinking booze. 

He may have thought of his Chicago days, 

When the city called him, and he made 
Money and wider reputation, or 
Of those days here long years before 
When he was ablest, wittiest lawyer, paid 
Of all our lawyers here the highest fees. 

There sitting with drink on drink, 

(And he could drink twenty or thirty ryes), 

He may have wondered how after a long career 
He could be here again, silent and wise, 

In his old home town. 

He didn’t seem to grieve, to think 

[53 



POETRY : A Magazine of Verse 


About his past, that he was dow;i. 

He was a wise mahatma who had lived 

All things, and after living them had survived. 

This artidp doesn’t say, 

Though people say so here, 

That Jake just drank his life away 
At Sandy Hughes’, year after year. 

He didn’t. For he was nearly eighty when 
He came back from Chicago, and returned 
To practice in the law here once again. 

Four years of drink 1 Hie should have taught 
In Sunday School, some moralists 
Around here say, or given interviews, 

Made talks, done something which assists 
People to live, instead of drinking booze 
In the old saloon of Sandy Hughes. 

Why didn’t he read a book? 

Why did he sit and drink and look? 

What did he have thereby? 

I think he had Nirvana in that way, 

Thinking of truths he couldn’t say, 

And mulling wisdoms over to allay 
Pain from the wonder h© was soon to die. 

Edgar Lee Masters 


[61 



KRISTIN’S SONG 


Poor, my dear, 

Hlere at the last, 

Thy follies overpast, 

Here on this breast, 

Though riven it thou hast, 

Shed thy last tear . . . 

Lie down and rest. 

Knowest thou not 
What vows were said 
With quivering maidenhead? 
Spirit it was, 'twas taken: 

No bridegroom, no bride-bed, 
No strain, no blot 
That vow has shaken. 

Still thy fear; 

There is no haste, 

Thou chastened and I chaste . . . 
Death may the cleric be 
Whose sacrament to taste 
Whose wine so clear 
Binds thee to me. 

J€an. Starr Untermeyer 



POETRY : A Magazine of Verse 


THREE POEMS 

ST. URSANN® 


Leaving the viaduct on the left, and coming over the hill, 
We came to a small town, four towers at the corners, 

The streets narrow and not dark, 

The children playing in green gardens by the waterside. 


Was it at the Swan or the White Horse that we stopped? 
We walked up to the church and the stone cloister, 

Grass growing among the tangle of votive ribbons, 

The wax flowers and the twisted wire. 


We heard the town-crier ringing a bell under the town 
clock — 

Something about a wandering cow and a job for a waggoner, 
Then we looked at the watermill by the stone bridge, 

And went back for a Cointreau or a Cinzano. 


That was at Eastertide, and the fields and meadows 
Mellow with cowslips: there were boys on bicycles 
With bandoliers of jonquils, and there was an old lady 
With a basket of primroses and violets. 


[ 8 ] 



Michael Roberts 


It was a quiet town ,• and not yet broken, 

The people kindly, and the priest ‘a good one as priests go\ 
There was a football team, and a lad who enters from the 
country in the morning. 

Singing: Ohe Oh, Ohe Oh! 


BONNEVAL 


A thousand generations cannot build this valley 
Into the friendly valley of our fathers, 

Longer than history our reproach will stand, 
What we have done, we cannot mend. 


Starved cattle graze on the bare hill, 

Brown streams fall in the narrow gorge. 
Earth runs like sand from unprotected ledges, 
What we have done, we cannot mend. 


Here the sheep-track is broken, here die chalet 
Gives up its darkness to the encroaching sun, 

Earth slides with the naked roots and rotten stumps, 
What we have done, we cannot mend. 


[ 9 ] 



POETRY: A Magazine of Verse 

VOICES OF EARTH AND AIR 

Voices of earth and air speak hpllow thoughts, 

Their words finger the nerves and the frightened pulse ; 
Thoughts without body, feeling without love, 

Cry suddenly in the night, and one cries out: 

'^Oh, but they are gnawing at me, 

I am part of the world again; 

Voices speak in me that are not myself, 

And will not let me sleep or let me wake. 

“Oh, but those mummified ones that cannot die, 

They crawl into my ears, into my soul, 

They speak with my foreign lips and think my thought, 
And this is death for me, and worse than living. 

"Come, let me die, or ^ve me back my world, 

Give me a small thing that 1 knew. 

Give me a smile, or a sudden phrase in music; 

I am lost, I am the lost and damned.” 

Michael Roberts 


[ 10 ] 



NIGHT JOURNEY 


As we rode the lean wKite highway through the dark, 
Hearing the motor-song, the heavy whisper of tires 
On concrete, and were lulled and put at peace 
Beneath the benevolent brooding stream of telephone wires, 
Suddenly we saw at the stony margin of the road 
A moving flash, as of thousands of turquoise fires. 

These were the eyes of spiders marching evenly — 

A fragile tide advancing on brittle feet. 

Huddled for courage, unhaltingly paced to meet 
The fury of the night with equal wrath. 

And yet another headlight, hours from now, 

Will catch their glow but little farther down the path. 

Unthinking and savage race, aware of man, 

Stirred by the norther of his headlong flight, 

Stung by the quick dust from his flying wheels, 

Rejectful of his schemes yet giving dumb salute 
As they turn unflinching jeweled eyes to his light — 

A proud and bitter caravan they press together 
Making their level way beside his road of stone, 

Far-flung across their mapless green abodes, 

Serving as dark a purpose of their own. 

Richard Leon Spmn 


[ 11 ] 



POETRY: A Magazine of Verse 


THE WII^LOW TREE 


I know not lovelier 
Than a Willow Tree 
That is of a still water 
Contemplate endlessly. 
Though in a churchyard were 
That vision, yet ^twould be 
Defiled not even there 
Of this mortality. 


Whereas Olivia’s 
Beauty of demoiselle 
Her threefold looking-glass 
Binds in a darkling spell. 
See hooded Shadow pass 
As down a prison cell, 
Whispering, “Sister, alas!” 
’Twixt graces multiple. 


They phantom are that wait, 
Foregathering Death’s sheaf, 
On beauty animate. 

Be its span long or brief: 


[ 12 ] 



Anne Young 


The maid who lovely, sate 
To her mirror beckoned Grief 
’Twould seeifi. Vital as delicate, 
Th’ insensate Willow leaf. 


Deep down the crystal well 
Youth fleeting, shadow-caught, 
Hear sighing like the shell. 

All rhythm of our thought 
Breathes elegy; who tell 
Of mortal beauty aught, 
Sound but a graveside bell 
Their word hath wrought — 


While, out of Robin’s throat 
Rejoice the Spirit’s ear 
Grace-note to sweet grace-note 
Telling of beauty clear, 

From mortal pain remote, 
Unsullied all of fear, 

Where Willow vestments float, 
Cool, silvered, to the mere. 

Anne Young 


[ 13 ] 



POETRY : A Magazine of Verse 


DEATH OF HERCULES 

I rest upon the earth I comprehend. 

Under these windy leaves and fertile mists, 

This cold. infinity of grass and sea exists: 

Visible war and movement without end. 

Out of a season’s ruin, these thin blooms ; 

Out of the lamb’s dark blood, a new-born beast ; 
And from extinguished stars, an autumn feast: 
Men bring the future with them from the tombs. 

In agony, in joy of strength, like me, 

They cut eternal heads that are regrown 
On burning snakes ; and a new world is known : 
The heart is cleared from wrestling with the sea. 

And though consumed in deaths they cannot know, 
White-lipped in dread of everlasting birth, 

They fly the loud advancing of the earth, 

It^ avid hollow, its resurge and flow, 

I lean my strength against my father’s love: 
Enormous gift of immortality. 

Impending distant Hke a huge green sea, 

Now like a great wind gathering above, 

Whose wcigjit I would hold from me as I bore 
Th^ sky tumultuous with birds and fire. 

£ 14 ] 



Edwin Morgm 


But I shall be consumed in his desire, 

Burnt in his thought and to return no more, 

Flesh capable of dfeath and war again, 

Man with the uncoiled snake beneath Kis foot, 
Forever laboring for the golden fruit. 

Thrust back to time, and excellent in pain. 

Edwin Morgan 


DARK MOTHER 

Not you, proud Miriam of Bethlehem, 

Could know the full, dark measure of their grief 
Who lifted from that other cross the thief; 

And you of Magdala whom none condemn, 
What comfort is in your stilled heart for them, 
Those little hearts that from the dust in brief 
Young agony cry out their unbelief 
When love has turned from loving to contemn*? 
To what dark mother shall they lift their prayers, 
Wise in the arid wisdom of old pain, 
Compassionate of those too poor for loss, 

Who are bereft of what was never theirs — 

Who break some little precious box in vain, 

And lift no shining godhead from their cross? 

Dorothy Paul 


L15] 



POETRY : A Magazine of Verse 


FOUR SONGS 

I 

Hesperus, the gentlest star, 

Where no human wishes are, 

Where no mortal hungers go 
Lets his cool perceptions flow: 

On the nightless Russian bays 
Hears the bells of vanished sleighs, 
Sees the furclad traitor rise 
From his frozen paradise, 

Sheds his mild solicitude 
Where the sickened exile stood ; 

Calms but never can forgive 
Those who lost the wish to live, 
Blinded travelers on the slope 
Who at last abandoned hope, 

Broken heroes who must praise 
Such an ending to their days; 

Blesses but cannot restore 
Those whom love drove forth to war : 
Pillars on the boundless sand 
from a cooling hand^ 


m 



Frederic Prokosch 


II 

Living and dying, ^hoping and despairing, 

We watch the winter tear away the flower: 

0 do not say too much, be not unkind, 

For Europe's grieving in her burning tower. 

1 still recall the straight and twilit limbs, 

The forest pool, the young and echoing powei ; 
Their thighs are locked, their lips are dry of kisses 
And Europe’s grieving in her burning tower. 

Play softly, black musicians! for the midnight 
Flies westward with the dying of the hour, 

Cities are flaming, traitors line the shores 
And Europe's trembling in her burning tower. 


Til 

O the vines were golden, the birds w^ere loud, 
The orchard showered, the honey flowed, 

The Venice glasses were full of wine, 

The women were geese and the men were swine, 

And the lamp then flickered over the door. 

And the gulls went screaming along the shore, 



S'??? 


POETRY: A Magazine of Verse 


And the wolf crept down from the milkwhite hill 
And the stars lay bright in the frozen well : 

O my world, o what have you done to me? 

For my love has turned to a laurel tree, 

The axe hang^ trembling over the Isles, 

The Lyre has loosened her flaming miles, 

And the door is locked and the key is lost 
And the gulls lie stiffening in the frost 
And the drifting snow is tracked with blood 
And my love lies cold in the burning wood. 


IV 

Let the beast be chained, let the sorrow be forgotten ! 
tire marble towers leap wildly into the air, 

Sibelius repeat for the sick his immense despair, 
the powder ^d rouge disguise what is sick and rotten 

the looking glass answer our sensitive fernlike faces, 
the feast be laid for the idiot and the thief, 
the lover in anguish fly to the loneliest reef, 
the architect build latrines in the ancient places, 


[ 18 ] 



Frederic Prokosch 


Let our dreams of peace go flitting through China like elves, 
Let the troops stream past the idyllic Mantuan farm, 

Let the stars be anatomized, let the comets swarm, 

Let Catullus and Dante shrivel and die on their shelves, 

Let the galleries reel with the lunatic palette and easel, 

Let the music go billowing over the stormy seas. 

Let the snow be spangled with beautiful girls on skis, 

Let Africa creep through our l3rrics and loves like a weasel. 

Let roses be strewn for the murderess in the hall, 

Let the crimson pyjamas flower on all the beaches, 

Let the burglar’s orchard shimmer with pears and peaches, 
Let the scholar sigh, let the heavenly statue fall. 


O hurry, hurry 1 Explore your marvellous day; 

No time for the heart to love and the mind to know! 

For the skies will roar and the passionate blood will flow 
And the long night pack our lunatic joys away, 

Frederic Prokosch 


[ 19 ] 



POETRY: A Magazine of Verse 

THIS IS -THE SEASON 

Here in the early dusk, in a warm room lit 
Only by the insatiate flames sucking the dry bough 
On the hearth, silent save for the snap and spit 
Of the fire and the fingers of winter at the pane 
Tapping . • . tapping . . . here if never again 
Peace wins the heart, claiming its ardent vow. 

This is the hour of the mind, as the body rests 
In the arms of warmth, shut in and secure 
From lean-jawed evils that slink on treacherous quests 
Through the nameless dark. 

(Listen! The flint on flint of mind and the precious spark 
Leaps to the shavingis . . , blow . . • and the heart is sure.) 

This is the winter, the season of talk and sleep, 

Contentment with roof and the sturdy thickness of walk . . . 
Be not deceived, my heart! Soon the twilight falls 
Less early, the cat grows restless, and strange excitements 
creep 

Into the air . . • Where is peace now and its quiet pledge? 
The sun laughs ! RoUns strut ! And grass, in a sharp green 
wedge, 

Assails the retrcatmg snow. 

Let them go, 

[ 20 ] 



Kathleen Sutton 


All the philosophies, the delusions of safety, the sterile desire 
for content. 

Let them run with the melting ice, flooding the gutters, spent 
At last in the sea . . /For the heart is song, 

Giddy, gone mad if you will, with the challenging mirth 
Of April. Oh, terribly wrong 

Seems the winter now, with its bleak defiance of earth. 

Kathleen Sutton 


INVOCATION FOR A BOOK 

Saint Barnabas had no art to tell 
Our Lady that he loved her well. 

And so he stood upon his head 
And juggled plates (as he knew how) : 

And She, who was the Queen of Heaven, 
Whom far more costly gifts were given, 
Smiled and was pleased, and touched his brow. 

Good Saint, now pray for me and bless 
These rhymes not juggled skilfully: 

Pray, that perhaps my clumsiness 
Will make Our Lady smile at me. 

Henry Rago 


[2J3 



POETRY : A Magazine of Verse 


TWO POEMS 

A FLAMINGO'^S EGG 

See how it is teed up on the nest, enabling 

My fancy to whack it down the fairway of the future. 

Hatched, growing its own wings, it soars 

Over the barren bunkers of commonsense 

And the despicable water-hazards of apathy, until — 

Dizzyingly winning— it dips for the piscine hole. 

Now I am standing them all a drink: they are all 
Bibbers at the bar of beauty, their ears sprouting 
Tentacles that suck me dry. The central figure 
In this vicarious beauty-snatching, I stand aloof 
Nonchalantly surveying the naive and enjoy my triumph. 


RAGS OF TIME 

"Hours, days, months which are the rags of time.” 

Donne 

If rags, I’ll harvest them and boil 
The contaminating soil 
From their fibres and attain 
The naked residue again. 


[ 22 ] 



Terence Heywood 


I shall shake and mat the stuff 
Into paper smooth and tough 
That will make an aquatint, 

Beauty from a lazar-squint, 

I shall dig the rags of time 
From the misbegotten slime, 

Nor ever beg them in the street — 
There are too many at my feet. 

Terence Heywood 


IN FLOOD 


Smoothly they swim among the chairs and tables, 
Staring with sad eyes fixed in unsurprise; 

Dapple her garments with their shadowy passing, 
And brush her lips with fins as soft as sighs. 
Silver and opal in the fluid dimness, 

Their living garlands blossom where she lies, 

Elizabeth F. Griffin 


[ 23 ] 



POETRY : A Magazine of Verse 


ANNUAL LEGEND 

A million butterflies rose up from South America 
All together and flew in a gold storm toward Spain: 
Eastward, the annual legend, a shining cloud of amber 
Driven homeward as it had been (and would be again) 

Since the conquerors searching a harder shining 
Brought for the bargain a handful of wings of flame. 

Balboa is somewhere scattered and Pissarro’s helmet 
Is a spider’s kingdom; yet here was the arrogant breath 
And the dangerous plume burning across the foreign air 
That danced like an ancient Andalusian noon: 

A blaze, it rose leaving the jungle dark and the leaves 
Heavy with silence, and the wheeltracks folding to doom 
Where majesty wandered: 


A million butterflies, 

Wheeling eastward from the soil where the nugget lies lost, 
Turned homeward in vast diurnal fire that marched one day 
Burning toward Spain ; and after that, for awhile, 

Spread like a field of death gold on the sea. 

Winfield Townley Scott 


[ 24 ] 



FIVE POEMS 


THE BRIGHT PREY 

Pheasant, prince in your intricate home of twig and bough, 
Despiser of the dull ground, whose airy estates 
Are soundless, wide, in light, move one concealing leaf 
And the gun will speak from the umbrage. 

Your feathers, tapering tier into dappled tier 

From your reared head to the final scimitar of your tail, 

Shine softly in the green sun 

As you sit motionless in the unreality of fear. 

Dominate the finger on the unseen locL 
Brood down the booted prowler who kneels before you 
Only to see you beat your wings in blood and fall 
Throbbing upon the ground, your crest in stones. 

Wait, pheasant, the sharp impatience of his greed. 

Wait, before you ease your golden claws, the wrathful step, 

The vanishing curse hurled to appease 

The loss of your hidden splendor of flesh and feather. 


[ 25 ] 



POETRY : A Magazine of Verse 


AN ABANDONED SETTLEMENT 

This land sweeps cold and narrow into the rainy sea. 
Wind-smoothed dunes rise grey in the drifting light 
And the breakers’ foam slides angrily up the sand. 
Only in jagged streaks of grass spring visits here. 

Gulls prowl the mist, crying, hunting the tides. 

The sea in predatory stream explores the dunes, 

From shell to root, and soon will be the land. 

Half sunk and blind the houses are home for mildew, 

Centipede and wind. They lie like driven hulks. 
Ignorant laughter, ignorant lust and death, 

Once lived safe and warm within those walls. 

A gaunt forgotten lighthouse rises here, 

Leaning toward the shoals it has betrayed. 

Suddenly, with slow gigantic lurch, it will crash down, 
Its black stones staggering into the waves. 

Why does my heart cry out. This is my own place! 


THE LAST SWIMMER 

Across the darkening cove, 
Beneath the blueberry bushes 
Caught high in the dunes, 


[ 26 ] 



Anthony Wrynn 


Stripped, still, 

His hands clasped idly on his hip, 

Stands the last swimmer. 

The water lies at his feet 
Without ripple or gleam. 

Beyond him, the vacant sky merges its shadow 
Softly with the far sea. 

The wind blows its sad horn 
Over the scrub and sand. 

I am fearful of the dark lustful eddies 
As he wades slowly out, 

Quenching his body in the black water. 

I am fearful, fearful, as he swims away 
Under the windy stars. 


FOREST WOMAN''S EXPLANATION TO A WANDERER 

Not shouting you came, back through the forest, 
Belted, bold on a horse, 

Vanquisher of the cloudy boar, 

But silent, the color in your coat 
Hlalf sucked away by storm, your step 
A feeble whisper in the ferns. 

Among what foreign faces did you sit? 


[ 27 ] 



POETRY : A Magazine of Verse 


What sharp hands hurried across your flesh 
And held your hair 
And held your feet? 

Were the quail too easily caught in our forest, 

Our days too fine, or was our house 

So like one more fallen tree 

That you who owned a harp and laughed 

When the wind went thick with snow 

Should have roved the rain 

And the weathering of men and the open years? 

No, I saw no boldness in your shape. It was not you 
Who came wasted through the forest, plundered 
Before the broken sunset. 

No love, no valiance, lit your eyes. 

Your brought no boar. You did not even boast 
So I closed the door. 

I was not Christ. 


SAINT JOHN IN THE WILDERNESS 

Naked as anger you came among the rocks and briars, 
like another beast, eating locusts and honey 
From storm-bleached hives, putting on nettled skins 
In the leaves, passionate, brooding, going to bed on the stones. 


[ 28 ] 



Anthony Wrynn 


Wildly your words shook from your bearded mouth — 
“Dissolute man, 

Gone at the heart, how you try to goad the sweetness of 
summer, 

Wring rapture from a weed. Winter comes and your hand 
Hurries among the constellations, seeking to twist the stars 


In forged solution of your ruin as you fall in secret.’ ' 
Who heard you there in the dismal rooms of the forest, 
Wasting God’s light in caves of dross and dust, 

Who but the unconquerable rocks and trees? 


Scholar you might have been to a later John who forced 
his torrents 

Into a page he could not see, regiving paradise with careful 
word, 

Who steered God’s sun, filled with centuries of grain and 
flowers, 

Upon the hungry furrows rotting in frost. 

Anthony Wrynn 



POETRY : A Magazine of Verse 


REVIEWS 

HARRIET MONROE 

A Poefs Life: Seventy Years in a Changing Worlds by 
Harriet Monroe. The Macmillan Company. 

H arriet MONROE has written two lives, one 
properly entitled A Poefs Life^ one less distinguished 
but equally interesting, the life of a citizen of Chicago and 
of the world. Born in that city, December 23, 1860, she 
grew with its marvelous growth and shared its triumphs and 
catastrophes. Her father was a lawyer, in contact with the 
leading men and interests of the city, a generation removed 
from the pioneers who had migrated from the East. Her 
older sister married John Wellbom Root, who with Louis 
Sullivan and Daniel H. Burnham, gave the city its physical 
distinction. She tells a pleasant story of the life of an 
American family in the sixties and seventies. The high 
point of her childhood was the occasion when her father took 
her to drive, and paced his fast horse against a railroad train, 
with the applause of the passengers. 

Harriet Monroe was always seeking the high points of 
experience. It is true she admits “I always played wrong in 
the game of sex, and ran away, emotionally, from boy friends; 
thus through the flowering years I grew up afraid of love.’’ 
But on the other hand she confesses: “From earliest child- 
hood I used to tell myself, and God, that I was to be ^grcat 
and famous’ — cannot remember the time when to die with- 

[ 30 ] 



Harriet Monroe 


out leaving some memorable record did not seem to me a 
calamity too terrible to be borne. Through these years of 
early youth and even past my thirtieth year this feeling per- 
sisted, this sense of cbnsecration which made me think I 
would prefer art to life/’ Truly, as the twig is bent, the 
tree is inclined. 

To the bending certain forces in the young city combined. 
William Vaughn Moody speaks in one of his letters of the 
complacence of Chicago toward its own productions, the 
exaggerated appreciation with which it greeted the immature 
efforts of its youthful aspirants. Harriet Monroe was to 
some extent the victim of this exaggeration. She was recog- 
nized early as a wunderkind. She enjoyed the favor of such 
literary patrons as Eugene Field and Dr. Gunsaulus. Field 
turned over to her his commission to write the ode for the 
dedication of the Auditorium, of which she bravely notes: 
“Today I should like to cancel its publication for two reasons: 
first, its academic and minor quality as poetry; and second, 
its anarchy strophe, which implies approval of the mass execu- 
tion of the seven so-called anarchists, which my more mature 
judgment denounces as an hysterical public crime and a blot 
on the city’s honor.” By Eugene Field’s mediation, she was 
introduced to the literary circles of New York, ruled by 
Edmund Clarence Stedman and Richard Watson Gilder, 
and even of London. But her first real achievement was ow- 
ing to her own indomitable pluck. This was her authorship 
of the Columbian Ode for the dedication of the buildings of 
the Columbian Exposition. lit seeking this honor she was 

[ 31 ] 



POETRY: A Magazine of Verse 


actuated not only by personal ambition but by her loyalty 
to the art which she made her own. She was determined that 
among the fine arts — ^architecture, sculpture, painting — ^so 
brilliantly exppsed, poetry should not be unrepresented. And 
having decided that there must be a Columbian ode, and that 
she would write it, she went boldly to members of the Com- 
mittee on Ceremonies and obtained the commission. But there 
was opposition to accepting the ode when it was written, be- 
cause of its length and a brief tribute to John Wellborn Root, 
who had died in the midst of his intense labor which had 
borne fruit in the architectural splendor of the Exposition. 
Harriet Monroe carried her case to the highest authority, 
the Council of Administration, and won it. Another high 
point in her career was the dedication ceremony when her 
ode was recited by Mrs. Le Moyne in the presence of the 
great gathering in the Court of Honor, and she was handed 
a laurel wreath by Vice President Morton on behalf of the 
‘ladies of Chicago.*' A significant aftermath was her success- 
ful suit against The New York World for stealing a copy 
of the poem and publishing it in advance of the dedication. 
Here again she was defending not only her own right but 
the dignity of the art whose sponsor in America she was to 
become. 

Beneath Harriet Monroe's shy and retiring appearance and 
manner there ^was boldness and determination. She knew what 
^e yranted, and how* to get it. She had an endless curiosity 
about people which she satisfied. As a girl d^e conceived an 
admiration for Robert Louis Stevenson, and wrc^ to tell 

[323 



Harriet Monroe 


him of it. The subsequent correspondence makes an interest- 
ing chapter in her autobiography, culminating in her account 
of a meeting m New York which proved a disillusionment. 
Other figures of the age furnish matter for comment, vivid 
and incisive. She had a love of travel, and with very limited 
resources she made many journeys, visiting every continent 
except Africa. She was interested in all the arts — painting, 
sculpture, architecture. And she could turn from the galleries 
of Paris or Florence, and the palaces of Peking, to take even 
more intense delight in camping in the Sierras or on the edge 
of the Grand Canyon. This last provided her with another 
peak of high experience. She never wrote better poetry than 
her prose description of her discovery of this appalling work 
of nature^s art. 

Harriet Monroe's autobiography falls into two parts — be- 
fore the establishment of Poetry, and after. Her loyalty to 
the art which she had elected to follow was the inspiration 
of the magazine; and her courage, energy, and decision 
were the qualities which carried it to success. She saw the 
other fine arts receiving attention and support from the 
growing culture of America. 

Why was poetry left out of it? — poetry, perhaps the fihest of the 
arts, certainly the shyest and nwst elusive F—^poetry, which must have 
listeners, which cannot sing into a void? TWhy was there nothing 
done for poets, the most unappreciated and ill-paid artists in the 
wotld? One reason, manifestly, was that a poem c^not be exl^ited 
and bought and possessed by some private or public collector in th^ 
manner of a painting or a statue. . . . But the chief r^asoii^ it 
se^ed tso me^ was that poetry h^d no pne to speak for it, no $tmp 

[ 33 ] 



POETRY: A Magazine of Verse 


of powerful citizens to take a spedial interest in it, to plead its cause 
with a planned and efficient program of propaganda. 

She had in her own experience an example of the uncertain 
fate of poems'at the casual hands of magazine editors. Her 
lyric *1 love my life” was submitted to almost every reputable 
magazine, only to accumulate a mass of rejection slips. After 
its publication in Poetry it has found a place in nearly every 
anthology. 

The group of Chicago people, headed by Hbbart Chatfield- 
Taylor, who furnished the annual contributions for Poetry 
is given generous recognition in Miss Monroe’s book, and 
also the assistants who so ably seconded her efforts — ^Alice 
Corbin Henderson, Eunice Tietjens, Helen Hoyt, George 
Dillon, Jessica Nelson North, Marion Strobel, Morton 
Dauwen Zabel, She is justly proud of the distinction of the 
magazine in giving first general recognition to the poetry of 
Vachel Lindsay, Edgar Lee Masters, Carl Sandburg, T. S. 
Eliot, D. H. Lawrence and others. She contributes much to 
the somewhat obscure literary history of the period. The 
controversy over the origin of imagism would seem to be 
settled by the letter of Ezra Pound, “The name first appears 
in my introduction to T. E. Hulme at the end of Ripostes, 
and the whole affair was started, not very seriously, chiefly 
to get H. D.’s five poems a hearing. It began certainly in 
Church Walk with H, D,, Richard Aldington and myself,” 
Fletcher, Lawrence, Storer and Amy Lowell came in as rank 
outsiders. “The oAers climbed onto Ant^.” 

From the outset Poetry swung to the left. Its objective 

[ 34 ] 



Harriet Monroe 


was to enlarge the bounds of poetry, to give invention and 
originality a voice which was denied them by the conventional 
magazines. Hlarriet Monroe herself was a radical in every 
sense. When the first^ exhibition of cubist and post impres- 
sionist paintings was brought to Chicago in 1913 she wrote 
for the Chicago Tribune of which she was the art critic: 

American art, under conservative management, is getting too pallid, 
moveless, photographic. Better the wildest extravagances of the 
cubists than the lifeless works of certain artists who ridicule thOT. 
Better the most remote and mysterious symbolism than a camera-like 
fidelity to appearances. We are in an anaemic condition which re- 
quires strong medicine, and it will do us good to take it without kicks 
and wry faces. . . . Revolt is rarely sweetly reasonable ; it 'goes 
usually to extremes, even absurdities. But when revolutionary feel- 
ing pervades a whole society or its expression in the arts, when the 
world seems moved by strange motives, and disturbing ideals, then 
the wise statesman, the true philosopher, is in no haste to condemn 
his age. On the contrary, he watches in all humility the most extreme 
manifestations of the new spirit, eager to discover the deeper meaning 
in them. 

In 1932 she was seen at a reception to Mr. W* Z. Foster, 
Communist candidate for President. 

When Harriet Monroe took her resolution to become a 
liaison officer between the poets and the public she achieved 
an importance to American and English literature which can 
scarcely be overestimated. The tributes of gratitude and 
affection of which she received so many were a deserved 
recognition of her service. Particularly should Chicago cher- 
ish her memory as that of one of the notable women who 
have done so much to redeem its reputation. The city in 
which one judge forbade Coquelin and Mansfield to play 

[ 35 ] 



POETRY: A Magazine of Verse 


Cyrano de Bergerac on the ground that Rostand had stolen 
the plot from the production of a local real estate dealer, 
and another judge pronounced Bacon to be the author of 
Shakespeare’s dramas has cause indeed" to thank the gods who 
gave it Harriet Monroe and Poetry. 

Robert Morss Lovett 


TWO METHODS 

Poems, by Rex Warner. Alfred A. Knopf. 

li I have read Mr. Warner’s poems at all correctly, I 
should say before anything else that his intentions are highly 
admirable. Unfortunately, Rex Warner did not participate 
in the now-famous question-and-answer stunt conducted a 
few years ago by New Verse, so that the critic cannot refer 
to the author’s own words either for the purpose of disagree- 
ment and incrimination, or merely in order to make him choke 
on his own statement. 

The actual performance displayed in this first book is very 
uneven, a mixture of sensuous observations and dialectics 
which has not fused into a unity. The reader is continually 
being brought face to face with acute and accurate images of 
the natural world, and when politics are introduced, and 
often when abstractions of any kind appear, a poem goes to 
pieces. More specifically; the poem Lo’t^e attempts in a purely 
direct manner to cteate this fusion, and is half-successful j it 
is when Warner begins to draw to his conclusion and his 

[ 36 ] 



Txio Methods 


generality takes precedence over, the details that the words 
fail to solidify the reader’s experience. 

Only love is any good 

or else some drug such as devotion to duty; 

but love is best 

for sun splitting cloud 

wind clearing the blue 

the birds rolling gay in riot of high air 

but most of all for men. 

For among shouts or in silence love 

beneath raging banners or alone with one or two 

can be felt running 

like fire below moss 

or ordinary established roots 

of the numb response, the ceremonial face, 

still the stream of fire. 

By setting this passage, which seems to me to illustrate the 
kind of failure which mars much of Warner’s work, against 
a passage from the poem called Nile Fishermen^ I trust that 
my meaning will become clear. 

Naked men, fishing in Nile without a license, 
kneedeep in it, pulling gaunt at stretched ropes. 

Round the next bend is the police boat and the officials 
ready to make an arrest on the yellow sand. 


The splendid bodies are stark to the swimmmg sand^ 
taut to the rn&d water, the flickering pahns^ 
yet swelling and quivering as they tug at the trembling ropes^ 
Their faces are bent along the arms and still. 


The first passage starts from a large concept, and iisesa 
images as incidentals and illustrations; in the second 

[ 37 ] 



POETRY : J Magazine of Verse 


the two single images (the fishermen and the police) are 
opposed to each other, and treated directly as the activating 
center (in the complete poem) out of which an event takes 
shape. Both methods have their advantages, of course, and 
it would be foolish to infer that because Warner is not as 
successful in the first kind of writing as he is in the second, 
he should '^profit by his failures and stick to one trade.^' 

But at present, Warner is at his best when he lets his 
particularized event make its own meaning. The desire to 
write poetry with a clarity that makes notes of interpretation 
unnecessary is neither new nor unusual, but it is a desire that 
can become abnormal and defeat its own ends. Warner oc- 
casionally over-simplifies and underestimates not only his 
readers but himself in addition. It is not, therefore, wholly 
surprising that in poems like Chough^ Curlew at Sunset, 
Egyptian Kites, Mallard, Fellaheen, and Nile Fishermen, 
poems which are written out of an isolated experience, and 
which are realized in dean and fresh detail, the reader finds 
Warner making his strongest bid for attention. 

The obviously political poems seem to suffer from too- 
great expansion, and from the seemingly vague feeling which 
dictated them. There are exceptions to this, and the first 
section of Chorus, if it is read without a shake of the head 
at the ghosts that stalk the line$, proves genuinely moving; 
the same is true of Unsettled Weather and Storm and War. 
I do not mean that I question the impulse which motivated 
these political poems, but I feel that the poems themselves 
are not whole; 


[ 38 ] 



Two Methods 


Now you can join us, now all together sing All Power, 
not to-morrow but now in this hour, All Power 
to Lovers of Life, to Workers, to the Hammer, the 
Sickle, the Blood. 

Come then companipns. This is the spring of blood, 
hearPs heyday, movement of masses, beginning of good. 


Philip Connor has called these revolutionary poems “a 
trifle ‘decent’,” and I think that he has hit the nail on the 
head. Warner recognizes the horror of war, the uselessness 
of so much present-day brutality, but in his poems he makes 
revolution too much of a picnic. 

I have said nothing of the influences which are apparent in 
Warner’s work, which will be noticed by any reader, nor 
have I tried to ‘place’ him in relation to the usual group of 
English poets. Warner has much to straighten out in his 
writing; in the meantime, he repays careful reading, both 
for his subtle ear and his often striking abilities in the field 
of pure description. 

Samuel French Morse 


"PLENIT OF NEWS''" 


Letters from Iceland, by W. H- Auden and Louis MacNeice. 
Random House. 

One of the English reviewers has declared that Auden and 
MacNeice were too busy showing themselves off to advan- 
tage to notice Iceland, that the few impressions of it they 
have set down are either superficial or false, and that thdr 

[ 39 ] 



POETRY: A Magazine of Verse 


general attitude is, in a word, Public School. To be called 
Public School is of course to be branded as beneath consider- 
ation. I am not sure I understand all the implications of this 
most complex and British insult, but I am convinced that 
as an appraisal of Letters from Iceland it is itself beneath 
consideration. It may be true that the authors have given 
us an inaccurate account of the country and its inhabitants. 
Not having been there, I cannot say. It is true that they 
have told us more about themselves than about Iceland. But 
that was precisely what they set out to do. Auden states 
MacNeice’s as well as his own aims in the opening section 
of his Letter to Lord Byron*, 

I want a form that’s large enough to swim in, 

And talk on any subject that I choose, 

From natural scenery to men and women. 

Myself, the arts, the European news. 

Elsewhere he says that the letters *Vill have very little to 
do with Iceland, but will be rather a description of an effect 
of traveling in distant places, which is to make one reflect 
on one’s past and one’s culture from the outside.” Whether 
or not you approve of the author’ aims, it must be admitted 
that they have realized them very successfully. If, like the 
pr^ent writer, you do approve, you will find this one of 
the wittiest, most entertaining books of recent years. 

To be entertaining and at the same time to treat of the 
major issues of ffie day is no easy task, especially for the 
modem poet. And to combine these major issues with the 
smaller, more personal concerns of ordinary exfeteice is even 

im 



Plenty of News** 


more difficult. Auden has been able to do both. In this new 
book, as in his verse and the plays written in collaboration 
with Christopher Isherwood, he has on occasion been willing 
to seem obvious, didactic or prosaic in order to make his 
work “useful*’ — useful, in the sense that it reflects, defines 
and illuminates the most pertinent and urgent problems of 
our time. To this end he has forced poetry to expand its 
range of interests, to draw upon such hitherto largely un- 
touched fields as economics, biology, and psychoanalysis. 
MacNeice has been working toward much the same end. 
He, too, has attempted to combine the common-places of 
day-to-day living with the larger world-perspectives of our 
age. It is therefore not surprising that these letters should 
contain what Auden once said might reasonably be demanded 
of any piece of creative writing: ^'plenty of news.** 

The “news** in this book ranges from personal gossip and 
literary chit-chat to unemployment, malnutrition, and the 
war in Spain. Auden, as might be expected, has provided 
the bulk of it. His fairly lengthy Letter to Lord Byron is at 
once a brilliant tour de force and an incisive commentary 
on the contemporary scene. Written in a seven-line stanza 
closely approximating the otusva rimn of Byron*a Don Jum^ 
it contains some of Audeni*s best satirical verse — and Audai*s 
satire at its best is as good as any we have today, MacNeice 
is represented by an amusing but over-long parody, Hetty po 
Nancy, by two poems, Epilogue and Iceland, (the latter very 
interesting technically) and by what 1 consider his strongest, 
best sustained work to date, Edogue from Iceland. ITic 

C+i] 



POETRY : A Magazine of Verse 


theme of the Eclogue is similar to that of Auden’s profound 
and beautiful Journey to Iceland (first printed in Poetry) 
but MacNeice’s approach and treatment are altogether his 
own. In collaboration the two poets are less successful. The 
Last Will and Testament, in which they both had a hand, 
is for the most part a hodge-podge of private allusions and 
pointless innuendoes that will be meaningless to all except 
the initiate. 

Such lapses, however, are unimportant beside the book’s 
many virtues. Letters from Iceland, in addition to being 
good fun, is an impressive and valuable work because it helps 
make us more aware and more intelligently aware, not of 
Iceland, but of *‘the world, and the present, and the lie.” 
In imparting this awareness the authors’ purpose, as their 
closing lines testify, has been to communicate to each of us 
a fuller understanding of his own responsibilities: 

And to the good who know how wide the gulf, how deep 
Between Ideal and Real, who being good have felt 
The final temptation to withdraw, St down and weep, 

We pray the power to take upon themselves the guilt 
Of human action, though still as ready to confess 
The imperfection of what can and must be built, 

The wish and power to act, forgive, and bless. 

r. <7. Wilson 


[ 42 ] 



Facing the Guns 


FACING THE GUNS 

And Spain Stngs: Fifty Loyalist Ballads, adapted by Amer- 
ican poets, edited by M. J. Benardete and Rolfe Humphries. 

The Vanguard Press. 

To read the average collection of World War poems, 
English or American, is a melancholy experience. Today 
such anthologies fill us with a sense of revulsion, and even 
at the time they must have been incredibly dreary. Often 
the sentiments were those of arm-chair heroes, the hack 
poetasters eager to serve the interests of the British foreign 
ofilce. On one page the theme would be stand-up-and-play- 
the-game-for-dear-old-England and on the next kill-the-dirty- 
Boche. The real poems of the war — the work of English- 
men like Sassoon, Rosenberg, Sorley and Owen, the isolated 
examples from Americans like Cummings, the poets who put 
down the horror and the pity — ^rarely were included. 

And Spain Sings, let us hasten to say, offers few parallels 
with such volumes. The poets of the originals and the trans- 
lators are honest writers. There are no false heroics, no 
puerile self-glorification in these pages. Even when the poems 
have been written with fury and contempt, the emotions 
come from immediate experience and are ajccompanied by a 
fierce and often noble dignity. This is what the poets of 
Spain as a part of die people of Spain have written while 
facing the Fascist guns. 

This volume had its beginning, as M. J, Benardete points 
out in one of the admirable forewords, when the Spanish 

[ 43 ] 



POETRY: A Magazine of Verse 


poets, at the start of the rebellion, ^‘revived the oldest tradi- 
tion in Spanish poetry: the medieval romance or ballad.’* 
All of these ballads were first printed in El Mono Azul, the 
weekly newspaper of anti-Fascist intellectuals, which was 
founded August 27, 1936. For Spanish poetry, it was a 
time both good and evil : that month Federico Garcia Lorca, 
regarded by many as the finest young poet in any language, 
was murdered by the Fascists at Granada. 

The methods by which the ballads were translated pro- 
vide a valuable example of collective action by writers. In 
most instances the prose translations of editor Benardete 
were turned into English metrical forms ; in some cases, how- 
ever, French versions from the magazine Cornmune were 
the basis for composition. Though all writers had the origin- 
als, as Rolfe Humphries points out, *‘In the strict sense of 
the word most of these poems can not be called hard and fast 
translations ; they are free versions, adaptations, paraphrase.” 
The result is a collection in vigorous and popular language, 
remarkably consistent in tone, considering the number and 
variety of poems and translators. Poets adapt poets with 
effectiveness and prove that writers can co-operate interna- 
tionally on a specific task. 

About one third of the book is the work of Rolfe Hum- 
phries, who has turned the assonantal patterns of the origi- 
nals into fairly strict stanza forms, for the most part Qne 
of the best but least recognized of contemporary poets, 
Humphries has a considerable knowledge of languages, e^e- 
oially the classics, and a good ear for racy spe^dh. Apiong 

[443 



Facing the Guns 


his most memorable short translations are PFho Went By 
Heref by Antonio Aparicio, with its effective incremental 
repetition; Against the Cold in the Sierras by Jose Herrera 
Petere; and the two ribald pieces on Mola and Queipo de 
Llano. But it is the long poems like Manuel Altolaguirre^s 
The Tower of El Garpio, Rafael Alberti^s The Last Duke 
of Alhcj and Rosa Chacers Alarm! that best show Humphries' 
skill. Here is the opening stanza of Alberti’s poem : 

You tower-haunting martins, 

You swallows and gray doves 
Are turned to coward ravens 
Or savage vulture-droves; 

Machine guns in each cranny, 

Rifles in every niche, 

Pour on the village houses 
The blessings of the rich. 

Humphries’ fellow contributors, both familiar and little 
known, have ample chance to show their powers. Of W. C. 
Williams’ three pieces, Wind of the Village by Miguel 
Hernandez is most interesting. Edna St Vincent Millay 
puts the stamp of her style on Emilio Prados’ The ArrimL 
Other poets are less personal but equally moving. Willard 
Maas, Stanly Kunitz, George Dillon and Shaemas O^Sheel 
are among those who do excellent work. There are laments 
for fallen friends, battle incidents, praise for the brave and 
jeers for the despised, Raxely are the poems forced or strident, 
as is the case in the translation of Vicente Aleixandre’s The 
Mdn Who Was Shot 


C453 



POETRY: A Magazine of Verse 


That this volume, the work of many hands, should be so 
good may seem to some a fortunate accident. What has lifted 
even minor talents above themselves is a spirit of a great 
people who embody the heroic virtues of plain people every- 
where struggling for a decent life. Neither these poems nor 
the force that has animated them will be lost on the world. 

Theodore Roethke 


ANOTHER EXILE 

Heinrich Heine: Paradox and Poet {The Life and The 
Poems) i 2 vols., by Louis Untermeyer. Harcourt, Brace. 
In these two volumes Louis Untermeyer has provided a 
new biography of Heine and a translation of more than five 
hundred of his poems, many of which appeared in an earlier 
(1917) volume of Mr. Untermeyer’s and many of which 
are here translated for the first time. A sentence on the 
dust wrapper, somewhat ambiguous in its form and question- 
able in its taste, assures us that ‘‘all the erotic and ‘censored’ 
verses appear as Heine originally wrote them.” It is true 
that all verses of this quality which appear at all are trans- 
lated without expurgation ; but it does not seem necessary to 
celebrate Mr. Untermeyer’s fidelity to the text of Heine in 
a fashion which suggests that the seeker for erotica will find 
a rich field in this volume. In like manner the publishers 
hail the “frankness” of Mr. Untermeyer in the biography, 
because he describes Ac long illness of Hetn^ aS the slow 

[ 46 ] 



Another Exile 


ravaging of syphilis. Such recommendations of these volumes 
belie the nature of both the translations and the biography, 
for Untenneyer is never militantly frank nor insistently 
revelatory. 

The biography of Heine is consciously designed as a setting 
for the poems; and the poems are so arranged that they may 
be read as a poetically logical autobiography of the poet. The 
close relationship between the events in Heine’s life, the 
moods occasioned by these events, and the resultant poetic 
expression is made clear. The poems are “dated,” and the 
long list of Hjeine’s loves — the Dianes, the Clarissas, the 
Yolandas and the Emmas — are identified. Those seeking 
critical enlightenment and not feeling that such settings for 
the poems are necessary or relevant will find the biography 
unrewarding, for too little criticism of any other sort is 
offered. In Untermeyer’s scheme, the biography not only 
“acounts for” the poems, but its data also determine the 
nature of many of his translations. Inasmuch as Untenneyer 
feels that Du hist wie eine Blume, for example, is not an 
apostrophe to an inamorata but a poem inspired by the in- 
nocent, child-like beauty of Heine’s cousin, Therese Heine, 
he translates the first stanza: 

Child, you are like a flower^ 

So sweet and pure and fair: 

I look at you, and sadness 

Touches me with a prayer. 

Untenneyer will not allow that Ich weiss nicht wm soli es 
hedeuten be placed as a detached legend among the ballad® 

[ 47 ] 



POETRY: A Magazine of Verse 


of Heine. “The Loreley, besides being a siren, is a symbol; 
she is Amalie” — ^Amalie Heine, the woman who stood in 
the poet’s mind for both delight and destruction. Unter- 
meyer reads the following quatrain fiom one of the lyrics of 
Die HeimkeKr against the background of Heine’s ironic 
“homecoming” to Hamburg and an indifferent Amalie: 

Nui einmal mocht ich dich sehen, 

Und sinken vor dir aufs Knie; 

Und sterbend zu dir sprechen : 

“Madam, ich liebe sie!*^ 

And he provides the following translation : 

Oh, once, only once, might I see thee, 

Ere I break these fetters in shards, 

And kneel to thee, dying, and murmur: 

“Madam, my best regards.” 

Other translators, with less knowledge of German and less 
knowledge of the occasion of the poem, have translated the 
last line variously: “Madam, I love but you”; “Lady, I love 
but thee”; and “Lady mine, I love you!”, thus concealing 
Heine’s “sudden twist of purpose”. Years after this “home- 
coming” when Heine, racked by headaches and creeping 
paralysis, lay sick in Paris, he wrote Ich rnache die kleinen 
Lieder, Untermeyer would have us see the poet reverting 
to his early frustrations, to the remembered bitterness of his 
affair with Amalie. And here again, with that same sudden 
twist of purpose, we find, following the lyric tenderness of 
the poem’s opening, the double entendre of ike closing 
qqatrain : 


[ 48 ] 



Another Exile 


And yet— though maybe wrong stirs 
This body that bums and longs — 

I*d rather have made your youngsters 
Than any and all of my songs. 

It is the retention of such values as these in the poetry of 
Heine that seems to me to distinguish the translations of 
Mr. Untermeyer. Whether or not the facts of Heine’s bi- 
ography will always seem to justify the interpretations which 
Untermeyer sets forth in his translations is a matter which 
may be opened to debate. But he has served warning on all 
translators that they must move cautiously in translating 
single poems or groups of poems without a familiarity with 
the corpus of a poet’s work and without a knowledge of 
the pertinent biographical information. 

When we consider Mr. Untermeyer’s life of Heine as a 
contribution to the art of biography, however, his work seems 
to me to lack peculiar distinction. Mr. Osbert Burdett, writ- 
ing on Experiment in Biography, speaks of those 'Vital con- 
tradictions necessary to a lively portrait” ; but he does not 
reckon with the biographer’s plight when he is confronted 
with a superabundance of “vital contradictions”. If such 
contradictions, as Mr. Burdett contends, be the salt of char- 
acter, what does the biographer do when confronted \pith 
an excess of salt? Mr. UntOTneyer find&---perh^ps inevitably 
— th^^t Heine^s life, if it is to be described faithfully, must 
be continually descoribcd as a paradox. Certainly he finds that 
Hleme himself constantly supplied in his letters, his eonvesr- 
sations, his prose and his poetry the materials for a self-por- 

im 



POETRY: A Magazine of Verse 


trait of the artist as paradox. But nevertheless the reader 
becomes wearied by the reiteration of incongruous appella- 
tions, antithetical phrases, and warring adjectives. Heine’s 
father, we are told at the outset of the biography, possessed 
a “self-assurance coupled with a demand that others help 
him out of difficulties” — a characteristic inherited by his son, 
Hieine, while learning to write in the Romantic tradition, was 
strengthening himself as the destroyer of German Romanti- 
cism. Heine was both romanticist and realist; both tender 
and cruel; both naive and deceptive; both a believer and a 
skeptic. Heine, as the most sensitive user of German speech, 
longed to write poetry in pure Arabic. Heine was Hebraic 
when contending most strongly that he was an Hellene. 
Heine’s obvious love of Germany was “intensified by satiric 
onslaughts on all that the average German considered 
sacrosanct”. The flavor of Heine’s verse was bitter-sweet, 
the "siiss-sauer pungency which is as characteristic of the 
Jewish temperament as it is of the Gcrman-Jewish cuisine”. 
Heine complained of not being regarded with sufficient seri- 
ousness, and of being taken too seriously. Heine, the wittiest 
man in Europe, was married to the stupidest child. Heine 
fought that the Old Order might be judged and condemned, 
while believing with Whitman that “man is about the same, 
whether with despotism or with freedom”. Heine had the 
head of Qirist with the smile of MephEstopheles. These 
instances of the paradoxical^ — ^and dozens of others through- 
out the book—provide Untermeyer with an embarrassment 
of riches. The result is a series of statements of the puzzling 

[ 50 ] 



Another Exile 


from which never emerges the picture of a personality. Heine 
remains enigmatic; he never becomes human. We have the 
life, not of a man, but of a figure of speech. 

Mr. Untermeyer cafinot — and perhaps should not — resist 
the temptation to draw the parallel between Heine’s Germany 
from which he had to flee as an expatriate and Hitler’s 
Germany from which his poetry has been banned. Die Lorelei, 
he tells us, ''still stands in the Nazi songbooks. F. Silcher, 
who gave it a tune in 1859, is credited with being the com- 
poser; the words are by ‘Author Unknown’”. 

William M, Sale, Jr. 


NEWS NOTES 


We are glad to report that the Shelley Memorial Award for the 
current year has been made to Lincoln Fitzell of Berkeley, California. 
Our readers will remember Mr. FitzelPs interesting poems in this 
magazine. His work has also appeared in The New Republic, 
The American Caravan, and other periodicals. Born in San Fran- 
cisco and educated at the University of California, Mr. Fitzell lived 
for a time in Europe and has done graduate work at Harvard. The 
Shelley Memorial Award carries with it a prize of eight hundred 
dollars. 

An enjoyable broadcast in honor of Poetry's twenty-fifth anniver- 
sary was conducted by A. M. Sullivan over the Mutual network on 
February 13th. Mr. Sullivan opened his program with ^e following 
tribute: ‘Tublishing has always been a hazardous business, but the 
editing and printing of a Journal devoted to^ poetrjr is ptobably the 
most perilous and discouraging adventure with prihler’s ink, Aft^ 
twenty^five years, Poetry: A Magazine of Verse is still functioning 
and maintaining an uninterrupted mmithly schedule. Its foundeiv 
Harriet Monroe, did not quite live to see the twenty-fifth annirersaiJy 
of the magazine, but her spirit carries it along.'' The feature of 

m 



POETRY : A Magazine of Verse 


occasion was a speech by Edgar Lee Masters, who told of Poetry's 
early struggles and triumphs, and recalled Lindsay's observation **that 
the movement was Western and that England and the East tried 
to capture it.” Some of the famous poems first published in the 
maga2inc were read with great effectiveness by Norman Corwin. 
Mr. Corwin's p.erformance should serve as an example to those who 
wish to read verse, whether on the platform or over the radio, 

A Federal Arts Committee has been organized, with offices at the 
Murray Hill Hotel, Neiv York, to sponsor the Coffee-Pepper Bill for 
the establishment of a Federal Bureau of Fine Arts. Lawrence 
Tibbett is national chairman, Burgess Meredith heads the executive 
committee, and the work of the participating groups is in charge of 
the following. Ruth St. Denis for the dance and allied arts. Max 
Weber for the graphic and plastic arts, Donald Ogden Stewart for 
literature, Leopold Stokowski for music, and Lillian Gish for the 
theatre. Mr. Meredith^ writes: “There is a very good chance to 
effect the passage of this bill, which is of momentous importance to 
the whole cultural future of the country. The Federal Arts Committee 
has been formed to work unremittingly until the Bureau of Fine Arts 
is a reality.” 

Conrad Aiken, whose present address is Jeake's House, Rye, Sussex, 
England, announces that he and his artist wife, Mary Hoover Aiken, 
are prepared to instruct not more than six resident students in paint- 
ing, drawing, fiction, and poetry. The fortunate students must be 
between the ages of nineteen and thirty. Rye is a finely preserved 
old town, and Jeake’s House contains an art gallery and a library. 
Mr. Aiken will supply particulars on request. 

Though Mr. Ellery Sedgwick, editor of The Atlantic Monthly, is 
still visiting “white” Spain as the guest of General Franco, American 
Culture is not without its defenders at home. From Rye, New Yoric, 
comes the first issue of The Examiner, a new quarterly of fascist 
propaganda edited by Geoffrey Stone, in which a period ^ nationalist 
rfegimentation and ^e ejection of “those elements that frustrate a 
congruous American dviUzation” are prescribed as necessary for our 
country's artistic and spiritual health. “It all sounds faintly blood- 
thirsty, I know,” admits one of the contributors. The tone of The 
Examiner is indeed bloodthirsty, but faint 

A heartier and mmre promising si&x for the welfare of our national 
culture is provided by the new issue of Direction, subtitled “American 
Stu^” a spcdal number demoted to tbc work of creative writers 
Iteployed on the Federal Writers' Project Edited by Harold Rosen- 

m 



News Notes 


berg and containing 128 pages of stories, poems, and art reproduc- 
tions, this issue is in effect a finely printed book-length anthology a£ 
some of the most gifted young writers in the country. The work 
presented has unmistakable vitality, and though written “off time” 
is a splendid argument for the sj>onsorship of creative writing by 
the Government. Anyone in doubt as to the value -and necessity of 
such sponsorship should read carefully the opening paragraph of 
Mr. Rosenberg^s editorial: “Certain aspects of the art of writing — 
movie and radio scripts, Broadway plays, best sellers, stories and 
articles for popular magazines — ^have in recent years become asso- 
ciated with big business and the earnings of big business. This 
fact has created the impression that, in contrast with painting and 
music, literature can maintain itself without any other support than 
the laws of the market Yet an essential portion of American letters 
during the past 30 years brought little or no financial return to its 
producers and had to be written and published on a subsidized basis 
outside the sphere of commercial publication.” Direction is published 
at 112 East 19th Street, New York, 

Five contests of interest to poets require notice this month: 

May 1st is the closing date for the annual competition in the Yale 
Series of Younger Poets. This series, edited by Stephen Vincetit 
Ben^t, is open to American poets under thirty^ who have not previ- 
ously published a volume of verse. Manuscripts of 48 to 64 pages 
are acceptable and should be addressed to the Editor, Yale Series of 
Younger Poets, Yale University Press, New Haven, Conn. 

The Forum offers one thousand dollars in nine prizes ran^ng 
from $40 to $300 for the best poems “challen^ng the American 
people to be alert to their liberties.” Poems will be classified in 
three groups: A- — General Public? B — College Undergraduates; C— 
Secondary School Students. Each manuscript must be clearly ma^d 
with its group letter and addressed to the Poetry Contest Editor, 
The Forum, 570 Lexington Avenue, New York. This contest had its 
inception in a meeting of Lawrence Tibbett, Jasdbia Heifetz, Padraic 
Colum, and Henry Goddard Leach, to launch a campaign ior a 
new national anthem. Mr. Colum believes that it is “a job fmr pifo^ 
fessionals,” while Dr. Leach is hopeful that “farmers, houscwiye% 
preachers, and clerks may be well able to turn out the vetseS yre 
need.” Both amateurs and “professionals” will be admitted to the 
Forum contest, which doses June 30th. 

Another offer of one thousand dollars is made by the Leagoe (ff 
ArOcticen Writers for poetry and prose by uUdiergraduates enrolled 

[ 53 ] 



POETRY : A Magazine of Verse 


in American or Canadian universities, colleges, or secondary schools 
during the current academic year The contest closes July 4th, 
prizes range from $50 to $500, and the jury will consist of Elliot 
Paul, Donald Ogden Stewart, Jean Starr fjnteimeyer, K. V. Kalten- 
born, Robert Morss Lovett, and Clifford Odets. Students living 
east of the Mississippi may obtain full particulars from Rolfe 
Humphries, League of American Writers, 381 Fourth Avenue, New 
York; those west of the Mississippi from Ellen Kinkead, 3354 Clay 
Street, San Francisco. 

A prize of $300 is offered by Stanford University for an original 
play in verse. The contest closes June 1st, and there are no restric- 
tions as to length, theme, or verse form. Contestants are asked to 
enclose a fee of one dollar with each manuscript, to cover the costs 
of mailing between judges. Requests for information should be 
addressed to Dr. Margery Bailey, Contest Proctor, Stanford Uni- 
versity, Callifornia. 

The Cummington School, Cummington, Mass., announces a com- 
petitive scholarship for summer study in writing, to provide all 
tuition and living expenses, and offered only for those who cannot 
finance their study without full aid. ^ Candidates must have com- 
pleted secondary^ school; the competition will take place in May, 
and all applications are to be filed before May 1st. Those inter- 
ested should write to the Registrar for instructions. 

NOTES ON CONTRIBUTORS 

EDGAR LEE MASTERS is too famous to need an introduction. His re- 
cent book-length narrative poem, The New World, was reviewed 
in our January issue by Harold Rosenberg, who called it "proximate 
and significant . . . histoiy-writing with idealism and a hot 
argument” 

ANraoNY WRYNN is a resident of Brooklyn. His infrequent poems, 
contributed chiefly to Poetry and The Dial, are prized by collectors. 

MICHAEL ROBERTS, of England, was editor of The Faber Book of 
Modern Verse and is the author of Poems,* The Critique of Poetry, 
and The Modem Mind, recently published by Macmillan. 

FREDERIC PROK08CH was botu iu Wisconsiu in 1906, graduated 
from Haverford College, and is now living in London. He is the 
author of a book of poems, The Assassins, and of two widely 
discussed novels^ The Asiatics and The Seven Who FUiL A new 
book of his poems will be published in May by Chatto and Windus. 

[ 54 ] 



Notes on Contributors 


JEAN STARR UNTERMEYER^ one of the best known American women 
poets, is the author of several books of poems, including Steep Ascent 
and Winged Child. Mrs. Untermeyer tells us that Kristinas Song 
was written after reading Kristin Lavrandsdaiter, “a reading which 
was an identification.” » 

WINFIELD TOWNLEY SCOTT, born in Haverhill, Mass., and educated 
at Brown University, is the author of a highly praised book of 
poemsi, Biography for Traman. He now lives in Providence, R. I. 

ANNE YOUNG, of Brooklyn, is a teacher of mathematics. The 
Willow Tree is the first poem she has sent us since 1935. 

RICHARD LEON SPAIN, bom in Mangum, Oklahoma, in 1916, now 
lives on a farm on the Ozark Plateau near Rogers, Arkansas. 
He has contributed poems to a number of magazines, including 
Poetry. 

EDWIN MORGAN, also known to our readers, lives in New York City. 

KATHLEEN SUTTON, of Anniston, Alabama, was introduced last 
November. 

HENRY RAGO is a young Chicago poet, doing graduate work at 
Notre Dame. 

The following make their first appearance: 

DOROTHY PAUL, bom in New Orleans and educated at Tulane, 
is now resident in the Philippines, where her husband is director of 
a medical research foundation. 

TERENCE HEYWOOD Hves in Arundel, Sussex, England. 

ELIZABETH F. GRIFFIN was bom at Peak^s Island, Maine, graduated 
from Mt. Holyoke College, and now lives in Livermore Falls, 
Maine. Her verse has appeared in several magazines and 
anthologies. 

All but one of this month’s reviewers have contributed previously 
to POETRX, 

ROBERT MORSS I OVETT, who divides his time between New York 
and the midwest, is an editor of The New Republic and a member 
of the English faculty of the University of Chicago, samuel french 
MORSE, of Danvers, Mass., is doing graduate work at Harvard. 
T. a WILSON is a frequent contributor of criticism to American and 
English periodicals. Theodore roethke, whose poetry is familiar to 
our readers, was educated at the University Michigan and at 
Harvard, and now teaches at State College^ Pennsylvania, wilimm 
M. sale, JR., is on the English faculty of Cornell University. 

[ 55 ] 



ai 

THE LONG-AWAITED MEMOIRS OF 

HARRIET MONROE 

A Poet'S Life 

Seventy Years in 
A Changing World 

The lively and provocative record of a remarkable 
career, written with all the charm of a rare and 
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from the late Victorian days, through the turbulent 
decades of the “new poetr/L Much of her correspond- 
ence with Lindsay, Sandburg, Pound, Masters, and 
others, is given as well as the statement of her personal 
beliefs and ideals whidh was found after her death, 

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$1,000 PRIZE COJXTEST 
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The Forum magazine has organized a prize competition for the most 
compelling poems challenging the American people to be alert to then 
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A total of $Jl,000 will be awarded in prizes 

This nation won an independent existence not by some process of 
abstract thought but because her men and women burned for liberty. 
And now the terrifying complications of a machine civilization have bred 
new forces which threaten the kind of government we call democracy 
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In relating this poetry competition to the major world issue of the day, 
the Editors are not sedung to offer a theme but merely to strike a key- 
note. It is hoped to secure clear, uncomplicated texts which may be 
set to music 

The Editors hope that many leading American poets will be moved 
to enter the corapetition which has been divided into groups, with prizes 
for each, as follows 

A—GENERAX PUBUC 

1st Prize $300 2nd Prize $150 3£d Prize $50 

B— COLLEGE UKDERGRADUATES 
1st Prize $150 2nd Prize $100 3rd Prize $50 

C— SECONDARY-SCHOOL STUDENTS 
1st Pnze $100 2nd Prize $ 60 3td Prize $40 

WRITERS^ CONFERENCE FELLOWSHIP 

The Ohvet Writer’s Conference, of Olivet College, Michigan, offers a 
fellowship for 1939 covenng all costs of the Conference, to the prize- 
winning contestant who, m the opinion of the Conference admissions! 
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CONSOLATION PRIZES 

A copy of “The Complete Rhyming Dictionary,” edited by Clement 
Wood, wiU be awarded to each of the 50 contestants who seem most 
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JUDGES — ^Padraic Colnm, William Allan Neilson, Carl Van Doren 

INSTRUCTIONS: — ^No poem is to exceed 40 lines in length. Manu- 
scripts must be addressed to the Poetry Contest Editor; The Forum; 570 
l^lngton Avenue; New York City, and must be mailed before midnight of 
June 30, 1938 Under no circumstances will any manuscript be returned or its 
receipt acknowledged. Manuscripts must be clearly marked with the name 
and address of the cont^tant and with the group letter (A, B, or C) of 
the class in which the poem Is bring entered Contestants in class B or C 
must state name of college or school attended In order to qualify 
for a ^^rize, the contestant must accompany his submission with a 
remittance of 25 cents in stamps* 


Wbtm writing to advertisers please mentton Ponrar 




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E. E. Cummings Collected Poems 

Here is gathered for the iObrst time the best work of this original poet. 
Mr. Cummings has writt^ a score of new poems and an Introduction 
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T. S. Eliot (translator) Anabasis: 

a poem by St.~J. Perse 

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Poetry and pictures are combined in this American picture-book in a 
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Louis MacNeice Out of the Picture 

This new verse-play of a young English poet is a sathdcal i^mta^. 
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POETRY and CHOSEN POEMS for $S.OO 
CHOSEN POEMS: A Selection from My Books of Verse, 
by Harriet Monroe, published by the Macimllan Company, 
contains the author’s best work in verse, a careful choice and 
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cludes also her later poems from POETRY, and a few never 
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CHOSEN POEMS is priced at $3.00. A subscription to 
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THE NEW POETRY : An Anthology of Twentieth Century 
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THE NEW POETRY is priced at $3.00. POETRY: A 
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through this office, our readers receive the combination price 
of $5,00 — ^a saving of $1.00. 

POETRY and POETS AND THEIR ART for $4.50 
POETS AND THEIR ART, Harriet Monroe’s volume of 
**able and searching essays” on modem poets and poetry, now 
appears in a new edition, much enlarged^ It is priced at $2.00. 
By ordering the combination offer, our readers may have this 
volume and a year’s subscription to POETRY for $4.50. 

POPTRY, 232 E. Erie St. 

I enclose — Please send me POETRY fpr one 

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THE 


CRITERION 

A Quarterly Review 
EDITED BY T. S. ELIOT 
January 1938 


COINTENTS 

For a New Paideuma .... Ezra Pound 
On Those Islands .... Louis MacNeice 
A Pattern for Reautv . . . F. McEachran 

Three Poems Michael Roberts 

Philosophy and Politics . E. W. F. Tomlin 
A Commentary 

Art Chronicle Roger Hinks 

Music Chronicle . . . Philip F. RadcUffe 
Broadcasting Chronicle . . Geoffrey Tandy 
French Chronicle . . Montgomery Belgion 

Italian Chronicle Mario Prm 

Books of the Quarter . Foreign Periodicals 
pdbushed by 

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When writing tn advertuers plense mentian PiKnwT 




Vol. LII 26th Year of Publication No, II 

POETRY for MAY 1938 


Notes for a Future Ballet 1-5 . . Winfield Tonmley Scott 57 

Three Poems Tom Boggs 62 

Valley — ^Prairie — For a New Boy ’ 

Two Poems Boris Todrin 64 

Flight — Spanish Sowing: 1938 

Gautier Visited Spain Kerker Quinn 68 

Octogenarian ... Thelma Phlegar 69 

Simple Legend David Cornel DeJong 70 

Two Poems .... .... William Stephens 72 

The Winning of the West — Strange Nature 

The Strolling Girls Thomas W. Duncan 73 

Two Poems Leonora Speyer 74 

The Voice — Star-fear 

Talk of Friends George Marion 0*Donnell 76 

If in the Language of the 

Polished Leaves Florence Dickinson Stearns 77 

Two Poems Charles Malam 78 

Spring Grinding — Night on the Mountain 

Cemetery W,H, Gerry 79 

The Ancient Course is Here Sydney Salt 80 

Three Poems I-III H, B, Mallalieu 81 

The Single Conscience . Stanley J, Kunitz 86 

One View of Housman Lavnrence Leighton 94 

Reviews : 

‘*Lost Between Wars'* Willard Maas 101 

Rayner HeppenstalPs Poetry .... William Gilmore 104 

The Sources of Our Thought Reuel Denney 106 

News Notes 110 

Notes on Contributors . . . 112 

Books Received - 114 

The Pegasus on the Cover by Eric Gill 


PubliflEed monthly. Editorial and Publication Offices^ 232 ISast Erie Street. Chioago.> 
lllinoia. Eastern Bnsinees Representative, Amy Bonner, 12 West dS Street, 

City. Yearly subscription rates: In the United States, Heonoo, Cuba and Amooeait 
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Copyright, i^yS, by W, S* Monroe and E, S, Fetcher, Executors 
All rights reserved 




POETRY 

A MAGAZINE OF VERSE 

VOL, in NO. n 

MAY 1938 


NOTES FOR A FUTURE BALLET 
/ 

I F EVER to dance again, or ever to dance : 

Then everyone everywhere; 

Then street, walk, block and square, 

Dancing* 

Mardi gras or nothing; horns 
For everyone, or nothing,^ 

If ever to sing. 

—This is manifestly silly, outrageously impulsive. It fails 
to take into account the True Facts. Even if she would, 
could lame old Mrs. O’Riordan dance? Even if she can, 
will proud Maisie dance? No. No. Peter who jinxes his 
cup has no eyes to dance with. That nameless one who 


[ 57 ] 



POETRY: A Magazine of Verse 


pushes his body on wheels — well? ''Mrs. Van Tassel Gos- 
soon, the rich bitch : will she descend from the wave of her 
limousine for a bacchanal? With Patrick the cop, I suppose? 
Maimie the blonde has done dancing enough in her bed. 
That nice Mr. Brown on the corner : what evening beholds 
him but pushing slowly one foot from the other after the day’s 
work, home to his vnfe and the kids : they have food enough 
to keep awake but not ever to dance. There isn’t a pair 
in the block has clothes for a party. If the kids dance in 
their rags, then they don’t know better. Turn on the radio. 

(Somewhere people — in a hotel, I bet — dance to that 
music: we get the overflow, piped out. No fancy clothes, no 
champagne, no chromium to sit at, no swell girls to grab onto, 
no slick floor, no shine of shirts and shoes.) 

We overheard the music Thank you. 

Half the folks in the block don’t care if they don’t dance. 
They sit and rock to the radio swing, and God’s in the mike, 
all’s well, and the music is free. Anyway these are war 
times. 

All times are war times 

— ^All times? — 

and an3rway, how do you dance. 


m 



Winfield Townley Scott 


These died by air: 

They took a plane west and cracked up in the Sierras and 
were never found in the snow. 

These went down in the Pacific in search of the islands and 
were never found in the sea. 

One man made it : kept west and soon 
Came humming out of the eastern sky. 

He’d been around. 


3 

I remember La Argentina, the beautiful dancer 
Who died suddenly: her heart grown big felled her. 

She was a beautiful dancer, a dark dancer. 

She would not be there: stage, a widening silence. 

Then in the hidden wings the slow stir, the whispered 
Chuckle, the sly castanets beginning beginning. 

Yes? Not yet, no. Yes. The mischievous clock 
Ticked again: tried: rustled: stammered, ran wild. 

And she swept there upon the incredible air 
With the great skirt of her dancing spinning the light, 
And dieatre whirling under the Spanish music 
Of her swift dancing* Spill, cascade, fountain, 

Flicking clutter of flowers, her fingers’ laughter. 


[ 59 ] 



POETRY : A Magazine of Verse 


4 

Let the crocus air invoke spring. 
Gardens are not impossible. 
^Sun steams on the roofs where 
Snow has hung. 


The new straw color of sun, 
The sky’s thawed blue. 
Simple is grass and simple 
The dandelion. 


I believe in the circling wall, 

I believe in the orchard lawn 
For you and me and the child, 
Though nothing is here at all. 


5 

If ever to dance, then everyone, eveiywherc. 

The music unheard, not undreamed ; 

Teach me, my love. 

You are not frail: the line of your strident thighs 
Is full and wise. 


[ 60 ] 



Winfield Townley Scott 


To dance 

The unfolding of your palms toward me, 

The lifting of your face, and your flung hair; 

To dance the turn of your shoulders. 

The mouth and its speaking. 

Your lips on my silence. 

Your breasts have broken the night, 

Your knees tread up the light, 

Arms raise the light 

To dance 

Praise of the naked — 

Despite the cancer of the sun. 

Winfield Townley Scott 


[ 61 ] 



POETRY : A Magazine of Verse 


THREE POEMS 


VALLEY 

Where brooks cleave the green dells with silver, 
Between the sunlit heights, 

The badger toils from break of day 
Till glow-worms trim their lights. 

The rabbit plays in sunny place 

And with her forefeet grooms her face. 

There the sage bee finds the flower, 

And the shy deer its mate; 

There undisturbed the nodnnow 
Travels its gold estate; 

The squirrel sits beneath his tail, 

The flute-bird tries her silver scale. 


PRAIRIE 

I reap the lights of Paris 
On the plain: 

Her pearl-decked boulevards 
Walk through the rain. 


£ 62 ] 



Tom Boggs 


I hear the hum oi London 
Through the night — 

Above the sheaves of wheat 
Stand towers of light. 

For artifice of warmth 
I hail the south — 

Though here the freezing rain 
Succeeds the drouth. 

The dust may blot the summer, 
The snow make winter blind : 
Wind blow out every acre, 

But not the inch of mind. 


FOR A NEW BOY 

Welcome, welcome, welcome, sir, 
Welcome, sir, to life and all. 

My pity you must dwell some, sir, 
On this wild terrestrial ball. 

But maybe you’ll be happy here, 

One of those whose brain’s a blur; 
Carelessly rich or a-whoop in a ditch! 
Wdcome, welcome, welcome, sir. 

Tom Boggs 


[ 63 ] 



POETRY : A Magazine of Verse 
TWO. POEMS 

THE FLIGHT 

**Once they get the idea, you can*t Ml it nmth bullets** 

(From Ben Leider^s last letter, written February 18, 1937, the day 
before he was killed in aerial combat defending Madrid ) 

On the ground 

The plane is wheeled into the wind and rests 
Darkly and still. 

From fire-doven crests 
The mountains shake with shells 
And the sharp sound 
Of diving wings, 

Through which the wind sings. 

Under the sky 

A man moves quickly to his waiting plane; 

Over a span of seas he came to die 
That there be living in the day 
In Spain. 

But in the earth there is a quidrening, 

While through the air, 

The blinding revelation of a flare 
Bursts on the dark. 


[ 64 ] 



Boris Todrin 


Now in the plane he is the transient spark 
Of never-ending fires. 

From the groimd 

The squadron leans upon the dark. 

The shadows push the earth away and rise— ^ 
There are other wings upon the skies. 

The hawk, the eagle lose the ruined sky: 
There is a fallen bird in fire and wastes 
That yet will fly 
And cannot die. 

Over the harrowed fields and cropless night 
The planes are deep in darkness. 

Down below 

A sudden light burns with its living breath — 
The spreading flare 

Goes like a ghost upon its earthward glare. 
The squadron leaves 

The wakened fires of the shell-ploughed west 
And turns upon the trenches; 

But the nest 

Sends its avenging wings upon the air. 

Over the cracked fidds and stone-fiUed night, 
The planes fight. 


[ 65 ] 



POETRY : A Magazine of Verse 


And he who crossed the seas to a torn land, 

Becomes its sand. 

Now alien wings spread from the night’s corners 
And stab the squadron to a flaming rout, 

Gashing the wind with fire. 

And darkness grows in deeper than before 
When flame dies out. 

And back upon its own resisting earth, 

The squadron bullet-^ut and shell-shaken 
Comes from the blade of dawn upon its sleep. 

But deep 

Under wingful skies 
The flyer lies. 

And who will name the hand or find the steel. 

And who will come upon his body broken 
And frame his bones and grant them willingness? 

The unwalled sun shall flood the bright land. 

And quicken sand. 

No fighter dies who falls for the still sleepers 

Of coming time, who make his burial fiirough die world. 

There is no victory for him who takes 

This given life, these wings: — 


[ 66 ] 



Boris Todrin 


No bullet breaks 

The light that moves a man across the skies 
Doom filled upon his astral voyaging 
That shall itself be flight forever sunward. 

No hawk, no eagle dies 
But broken lies — 

Ashes will stir, 

The phoenix shall arise. 


SPANISH sowing: 1938 

Worn out fields where bomb and shell 
Scattered iron seeds of hell 
Grow their scarecrow crops. The torn 
Bones will keep the roots of corn. 

Now there is no single blade 
Standing, where the live brigade 
Wavered, mustered out and fled 
To the armies of the dead. 

Fighters grown upon the land 
Shall be seeing where they stand, 

Over the invaders’ feet, 

Broad backed regiments of wheat, 

Boris Todrpt 


[ 67 ] 



POETRY : A Magazine of Verse 


GAUTIER VISITED SPAIN 

A hundred years ago ? Really that long 
Since you crossed into Spain, keen to record 
Its quiet olive hillscape quickened by song 

Of sun-bred people, then lulled by legend-stored 
Cathedrals? That year, too, the flowers faded 
As they fade today in the convent-yard. 

While you watched, near Irun, the purling jade 
Bidassoa hugging her velvet banks. 

Hoping to be the theme of a serenade, 

Your branching thoughts were rudely felled by the clanking 
Of a heavy hammer. There! half hid 
In reeds, a peasant, moody-eyed and lank, 

Pounding bullets flat on sandstone — ^lead 
From recwit gunfire, picked up in the fields — 

A hard harvest, smelling of the dead, 

And planted by the alien slayers — yet yielding 
A price at market ! What else could he glean 
From land that war had swiftly, blindly wheeled 



Kerker Quinn 


Its engines over ? Was he trying to dean 
The soil of all that tore her breast apart? 

Unhealed, he feared, she would not bear again, — 

But soil’s as sturdy as a Spaniard’s heart I 

Kerker Quinn 


OCTOGENARIAN 

He drowses all the morning now, 

His eyes set on the plum tree bough. 

He sees the blosswns, only them, 

A glimmering whiteness on the stem. 

Here is no tree with fruit to come; 

He has forgot the leaf, the plum. 

Left in this sunny place alone 
He takes a harvest of his own. 

Drowsily now, and childishly. 

He waits the changing of his tree 
To stranger whiteness, depths more deep. 

To one great flower whose fruit is sleep. 

Thelma Phlegar 


[ 69 ] 



POETRY : A Magazine of Verse 


SIMPLE LEGEND 


We built us a house, while 
the compassionate hills lay around 
and the sun made shadows for our 
going out and blessed our coming in. 

But nearby we found bones in the grass, 
a bird ascended and threw down 
note upon scolding note, and then 
that day, too, ended at last. 

Sometimes the hills crawled nearer 
and said things we ought to have heard 
in words, but we made of it music 
with no consequence or hurt. 

And with no literate faith we 
gave the wolves of our bread; 
if winter comes, we thought, we 
shall be untouchable and bold. 

Nothing came, no winter came, even 
swans rode upon our lake, but 
very soon the walls we had built 
were inanimate no more; 


[ 70 ] 



David Cornel DeJong 


they talked with the hills, they lay 
in their arms at night, dew 
hallowed everything, but we, left 
small and alone grew a little afraid. 

It was before snow came, when we 
peering outside heard the swans 
selling our flesh and saw the hills 
grin at remembering our tenderness. 

On a hoarse November while stripped 
earth cowered around we ran, 
leaving behind three old minds which 
sometimes come whispering at night. 


Then we run again, pursued by hill 
and swan and wolf, understanding 
at last we should not have found bones 
but dandelions in the grass. 

David Cornel DeJong 



POETRY : A Magazine of Verse 


TWO POEMS 

THE WINNING OF THE WEST 

I am Joe Grandys : I have gone at night 
under the stars until the early light 
came faint along the hills; and I have slept 
in rock arroyos, where the shadows crept 
while lizards watched me sleeping in the shade. 
Then, when the sun was sinking, I have made 
a careful fire beside my saddle-pack ; 
have eaten, and put pack and saddle back 
on pony and lead-pony, and have gone 
across the desert with the setting sun. 

STRANGE NATURE 

Why should nature seem to be 
less than beautiful to me — 
less, or more, or other than 
it was to my vision when, 
as a boy, I thought it all 
new, and dearly beautiful? 

Now there’s terror in a rose; 
there is strangeness now in those 
hidden violets I’d find 


[ 72 ] 



Wtlltam Stephens 


(had I either heart or mind) 
curling near the r6ots of trees, 
or in shadier crevices. 

Now the petaled primrose grieves 
if I try to part its leaves; 
now the daisies in a field 
show the surface of a shield, 
and the grassblades in a lawn 
are like swords to walk upon. 

William Stephens 


THE STROLLING GIRLS 

As surely as spring dusk brings out the stars 
Spring dusk brings out the strolling girls 
Watching cars. 

The bright blond girls, the slim dark girls in sweaters 
Walking on proper errands to drug stores 
Or mailing letters. 

Their purposes in dusk are as mysterious 
As the soft wandering of twilight cats 
And quite as serious. 

Thomas W. Duncan 


[ 73 ] 



POETRY : A Magazine of Verse 


TWO POEM§ 

THE VOICE 

He shall arise at the voice of the bird, 

Ecclesiastes 


I listened dully as the skies 
Grew white with day; I did not rise, 

But turned my face the more away. 

Precise and clear, the afEable bird 
Declared the dawn; I did not rise 
Rejecting him as though unheard. 

Ah, had my pillow been the ground 
In deeper ground, a darker sheet 
Covering me from head to feet, 

I might have risen at the sound, 

Each resurrecting bone had leapt 
(I thought) ; but in the flesh I wept 

And closed my ears and clamped my eyes. 
I heard the voice I I did not rise. 

The living clay was slow and surly 
At starting grief so early. 


[ 74 ] 



Leonora Spe'^er 


STAR-FEAR 

What thing insistent urges me away 
Out of the garden, the dark, familiar paths 
I walk unswervingly, as were it day? 

Here it is home. Each flower in its bed 
Is known to me by name, by sleepy scent ; 

Each bough, the one where I must bend my head 

Is known, the nested bird within — I hear 
A fledgling-robin murmur, half-awake — 

Why do I turn ? What is it that I fear? 

It is these stars, immutable and wise! 

Flaunting their fateful chart and peering, moving 
As I do, I in my garden, they in their skies. 

Intent and cold they watch, until I run 
Back to the shadowy house, to bolt the door, 

Shut windows swinging wide, and one by one, 

Draw heavy curtains closer, make more light ; 
Saying, *^The stars are beautiful tonight.” 

Leonora Speyer 


[ 75 ] 



POETRY: A Magazine of Verse 

TALK OF FRIENDS 

We do not lack morality. We are 
Corrupted by false doctrine. Having heard 
The hollow voices we have followed them, 

Touched their bright vestments, knelt before their shrines. 
We heard the preaching from a hollow mouth, 

Forgetting what so patiently was learned, 

Declining into evil, soon we were 
Committing sin against the blood, in mind 
Then not in mind since time of mind was past. 

I do not mean to be impertinent; 

I speak with privilege, as closest friend, 

We being private here, the night at hand. 

Remember how we sailed our paper boats 

Together, walking in the thorny yard 

At nightfall toward the river; and we said 

It would be dark before the boats came down 

To port. Thorns scratched our legs as we turned home, 

Calling goodnights to keep us from our fear. 

True to the diart of flesh for homing voyage, 

I think we should make haste, returning now, 

Lest dark precede us and we lie alone 
While memory splits our horizontal nigjit 
In vertical bisection of the shroud 


[ 76 ] 



George Marion O" Donnell 


Through reconstruction of the toothpick mast, 

Pinewhittled consummation which' resists 
The strongest gales in all our windy dreams. 

We bathwarm children wander in the mist. 

George Marion Donnell 


IF IN THE LANGUAGE OF THE POLISHED 
LEAVES 

If in the language of the polished leaves 
There be a passing hint of your recurrence, 

Or if the intimate jargon of the eaves 
Should suddenly smooth into a fair coherence 
And tell me with a cautious certainty 
Of your return — out where the farthest hem 
Of time’s most perilous strand welcomes the sea, 

I would await your final stratagem; 

But it is plain to me you cannot take 
The journey as you said, nay as you swore — 

And I so confident that you would break 
The barrier, that I feared to leave my door ! 
Orunipotoice devises, it would seem, 

A master trap and baits it with a dream. 

Florence Dickinson Steams 


[ 77 ] 



POETRY: A Magazine of Verse 


TWO POEMS 


SPRING GRINDING 

I was too young to shape an edge to steel 
But not too young to turn the groaning wheel 
Or fetch more water when the can ran dry. 
Warm wind below, and over us the sky 
All bright and blue, we were a pair to match. 
There always was a hand to change, to snatch 
Glimpses of pastures open under spring. 
Coaxing the scythe edge wasn’t everything. 

The blade made songs along the watery track. 
Pushing out hard, I felt the wheel push back 
As if the steel alone were not enough, 

As if it must put edge to human stuff 

Just as the sun put edge to branch and boulder. 

I thought of shapes to grind when I was older. 


NIGHT ON THE MOUNTAIN 

Now sleep the lights of village, every one, 
The last lone walker to his door gone home, 
The last late watcher at his mill wheel done. 
Now in the silent streets small shadows roam, 


[ 78 ] 



Charles Mitlam 


People the hollow hour, the vacant square, 

Old walls, the ancient roof§, the soundless road. 
Stars ride the windy reaches of the air. 

A wasted moon moves to its cold abode. 

On rocky hills, on broken pasture face 
How like dark angels from an older time 
The trees keep guard, each in familiar place, 

While slow night lengthens and the shadows climb. 
Looking far down the earth where valleys sweep 
Deep in the peace of silence, deep in sleep. 

Charles Mdlam 


CEMETERY 

Upon this hill the polished stones 
Chant family pride in njonotdnes 
Above the inarticulate bones. 

The spring drifts down, the swift grass spreads, 
While over all a west wind treads, 

Heel on the dated figureheads 

In scorn of impresarios 

Who hawk the spirit’s cast-o£E clothes, 

Who cry the dark decaying pose. 

W. H. Gerry 


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POETRY : A Magazine of Verse 
THE ANCIENT COURSE IS HERE 


The ancient course is here, 

The simple conspiracy of miracle 

When clarity is the blind footman with wings. 

Do you want a definition of destiny? 

Then I will take you to a new place 

Where dreams are frugal and the world a quick fact, 

Where the dark waters run fast and bright, 

Their swirl full of fallen suns. 

No hope or promise, no other sound, have I against loneliness. 
Only the brief paleness of silvered bodies riveted to a moment 
And the tearing screams of vultures overhead 
Softened awhile to a stealthy peace. 

But should our scorn be loud enough 
This rumor shall conscript the fiercest demons 
To flit angelically through all our days, 

Sydney Salt 


[ 80 ] 



THREE POEMS 

t 

In the grim valley the iron festering and 
The veiled silence and the derelict hand 
Muster the ghosts of the unaccountably lost 
To gather in this valley where I am host. 


In dual ambuscade of eye and tongue 
The moments hang nowhere and for long 
The smudged words cannot touch these cripples; 
The trees reach out for their fallen apples. 


If it were only any winter but in this 
When wonder's antics in the skull may miss 
The magical seven or the three of love, 

Miss what it means for me to live. 


A shadow army from wise Crete's long sand, 
They file this watery morning where the wind 
Throu^ skeleton walls moans their march 
And the eye, seeing stones, imagines much: 


[ 81 ] 



POETRY: A Magazine of Verse 


Sees on the snow the warrior’s, salute, 

The ragged army and those we must shoot ; 

But in this valley Spring will never come : 

Only this ruin which we call home 

Raises its gaunt hands in attitude of prayer 
Remembering summer’s embrace. Despair 
Beyond the easy solution waits ahead 
Still to flourish when those and I are dead. 

IX 

I will walk to your wish through images of dearth, 
Over grass blades stabbing the bloodless snow, 

On the smooth face of winter touching earth, 

And give you the limp handshake of the scarecrow. 
And what you will most wish for and desire 
Is to live easily, be free from care. 


To be free thus is indistinguishable from death : 
The gaunt tree moving, ridiculous giraffe. 
Under the lying stars your individual breath 
Has the axe of wind to cut all to chaff. 

You would see the year fall back on the tide 
And the future be late for parade. 


[ 82 ] 



H. B, Mallalieu 


In cottages childreri are hiding their heads, 

In a candle^s distorted gloom the dogs howl 
And in cities clerks go to their circumspect beds 
To a night where women shiver and wolves prowl, 
To a land where the lovely and the lame may mix 
Seeking what love or their pity lacks. 


The dreamer is free only until he w akes. And I 
In the general insomnia gave my dreams to you : 
The lake we saw was probably all sky 
Neither in nor under water, never blue; 

But what will be offered for the scenes 
We saw after judgment on the world^s sins? 


To walk into the wood, to watch the lark 
Or the degenerate mole, to hope summer come 
And sea on bare arms, to dismiss the park 
Where every tree is perfect, to found a new home; 
While all the hills lie threatened by the marsh, 
This is your impossible November wish. 



POETRY : A Magazine of Verse 


m 

Everywhere in the past the unrecorded men, 

Those who were not martyred or who did not fall, 

May more have been their day than many, than 
The deceptive perfection of the cathedral. 

Than magical science or the heroic name. 

And we who think of the summer as always as to-morrow 
Must not imagine a season without sorrow : 


To new acts man's responses may be the same. 
When you look from this island across the sea, 
Splendid with the wake of every ship you miss, 
Do not be certain of an easy eternity, 

Of a dream kingdom where the faithful kiss. 
Be sure there will be something there to bless, 
But not so certain that the alien coast 
Has any original glory of which to boast, 

Or final antidote to limp distress. 


Here trees are hostile; the difiE's shadow spies 
On hope's slow action. The gulls scream 
The fantastic world of our youth, the lies 
Of a Gothic hell, haunted, as real as the dream. 


[ 84 ] 



H. B* Mallalieu 


Sometimes you pause Within earshot of your doubt 
Hearing a question’s echo : and you hear 
The macabre devils as they loudly appear 
Shouting for a saviour to cast them out. 


Thus there are times when we cannot be lost in each other: 
When love must be seen as on the sands below 
The narrow cliffs we both of us inhabit. We must smother 
Sometimes the desire to change the sand to snow. 

Thus there are hours when not to be lost is lying, 

When neither sand nor snow nor the cliff’s formation 
Can make strict the contours of elation, 

Nor can they frighten with their continual spying. 

Let fortune become for a while our chaperone, 


Until we are well enough to see ill clearly. 

Still we may adopt the customary tone, 

Love what we loved but perhaps less dearly. 

So now while the fever handles our town 
We hope to prevent as well as cure, 

That the half-diseased be not considered pure, 

Nor the certificate be taken for a crown. 

H. B, MallaLuu 


[ 85 ] 



The Single Conscience 


— and in this outer kingdom of grace or moral law man 
must accept what God or the State reveals. Mrs. Colum 
wants to be fair to the citizens of both kingdoms. She con- 
cedes the right of the artist “to work according to the eternal 
laws of his art.’^ On the other hand: “If the artist has a 
right to choose any material he wishes and the right to employ 
every means he can to make a lasting thing and defend it, 
the public also has the same right to defend what it has 
made, its rules and regulations for the convenient conduct 
of life.” In this statement I am struck by the curious opposi- 
tion of “artist” to “public” — as though the creative person 
existed outside the human race and were engaged in a pro- 
fessional conspiracy to destroy it. What seems to me even 
more astonishing is the picture of the institutions of authority 
fighting, with their backs to the wall, against the embattled 
artists. Pity the poor, helpless, innocent State and her un- 
fortunate sister, the Church, who have nothing to defend 
themselves with against the poets except wealth and power, 
the police, the military, the courts, the concentration camps, 
and, if need be, the gunl (The State, of course, feels no 
compunction about applying these same instruments of per- 
suasion to the Church, when conflicting interests supervene 
to inhibit their sisterly affection.) 

I cannot applaud the justness or moderation or even the 
intelligence of an assertion that “no public or law ou^t, in 
a civilized country, to have the right to suppress or destroy 
a work of art, although it has the right to censure and 
condemn it, or even, in cases, to limit its circulation.” If 

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POETRY : A Magazine of Verse 


it is conceded that artists must eatr whoever condones the 
restriction of their market (because “the public’ ' is dis- 
pleased) extenuates the not very mild or benignant process 
of starving them out. 

To grant authority to the ethical conscience over the 
aesthetic, no matter with what appeal for sweet reasonable- 
ness in action, is to accept the constitution and by-laws of 
the Society for the Suppression of Vice, to justify the anti- 
cultural ruffianism of local demagogues, to invite the disaster 
that has befallen art in the totalitarian states. 

The theory of the two consciences is not only inexpedient, 
but also in flat contradiction of the evidence. Above the 
level of the balladist, and not infrequently at that level, 
the poet is confronted by the ineluctable necessity of making 
moral judgments. The ethical significance is not always 
so conspicuous as in the work of Dante, Goethe, Milton, 
Tolstoy, and Thomas Mann, but, however elusiye, it is 
always there, the twin threads of good and evil running 
through the fabric. Mrs. Colum praises, elsewhere in her 
bookv Coleridge’s theory of the imagination. But Coleridge 
would haye been horrified at the divorce of the imagination 
tfrom moral imperatives. “No man,” he wrote, “was ever 
jret a great poet, without being at the same time a profound 
philosopher.” An imagination that is not healthy enough 
to asfculate ethical laws is too much of a weakling to fa<x 
^ rigms of poetry. The artist is ever3rtldng that he can 
m^perien^ Society responds to him, and a ^jrmpathetic, 
dmrnaUjr enriching relation is achieved, when the communal 

im 



The Single Conscience 

life approximates in variousness and intensity the experience 
of its artists. 

One of the reasons why modern poetry has appeared so 
obscure, cold, and baffling to the population is that it repre- 
sents a multiplicity of phenomena and psychological adventure 
that can seem only eccentric to men in the grip of a routine 
that limits and conditions their spiritual as well as their 
physical reflexes. In his Men of Mathematics E. T. Bell 
remarks of Archimedes : “This is one of his titles to a modern 
mind: he used anything and everything that suggested itself 
as a weapon to attack his problems.^* Of the truly contempo- 
rary poet — and it is necessary to be contemporary before one 
can be classic — it may be said that he incarnates and ex- 
presses the wild audacity of the modern mind. In this 
connection Thomas Mann writes : 

Art, above all things, belongs in the sphere of the venturesome, the 
daring. It forever reaches out to extremes and never lacks that 
“topch of audacity’^ without which, according to Goethe, ^‘no talent 
is conceivable.” Art abhors the mediocre, as it abhors the cheap 
clich^ the trivial, the insipid and the base. . . . 

An act of the imagination, the transmutation of the infinite 
particulars of experience into finite form, is the most com- 
plete operation of the mind, when it functions as “the organ 
of civilization.^* Nothing need be alien to it, for there is 
nothing that its masterful alchemy cannot transform. Xp 
speak of the imagination as a separate element of the mind — 
as the pure part, for example, that must be isolated from 
the coarser elements, lest it suffer contamination — is to fall 
into a paralyzing error. Mrs. Columns theory of the two 

im 



POETRY: A Magazine of Verse 


consciences leads her almost into absurdity when she writes : 

He [the artist] has to make his work as sincere and as fine as he 
can, without allowing other provinces of human achievement to shove 
their laws or rules onto him. Pure literature, therefore, can never 
be propaganda, for propaganda is the turning aside of literature 
from the expression of life, which is its field, to the^ praise or adver- 
tisement of some policy, some endeavor, some side line of life, which 
may represent a public good. 

What “pure” literature is I do not know, nor why a side 
line is any less a part of life than a line. Whenever people 
begin to talk about propaganda — and nearly every one is 
ready to begin at the drop of a hat — am reminded of those 
demoralizing advertisements that warn us that we ourselves 
can’t tell when we’re “offensive.” Propaganda is what 
somebody else is guilty of when he advocates something that 
you don’t believe in. 

Mrs. Colum exhibits the nature of this fallacy when she 
refers, in another context, to the Declaration of Independence 
as a work of American literature. It is; but it is also, like 
Milton^s Areopagitica and the Q)mmunist Manifesto, a 
provocative document — z. piece of propaganda, if you will — 
and you could not read it aloud in Jersey City today without 
being dapped into jail. When the word “literature” is 
employed as though it were a badge of honor to be pinned on 
the breast of a Nobel Prize winner but not on any lesser 
mortal’s common, run-of-the-mill breast, the critic is enabled 
to exclude peremptorily from his sacred garden any writer 
rAose manners or opinions annoy him. Actually, the differ- 
ence between the works of Jonathan Swift and those, say, 

[ 90 ] 



The Single Conscience 


of Brann the Iconoclast is one of quality and not of kind, so 
that we ought to speak of ‘‘good” literature in comparison 
with “bad” literature instead of “literature” as opposed to 
“non-literature.” Any valid critical method must be able to 
note and define such qualitative differences without establish- 
ing a Lipari for political offenders. 

The artist need not apologize for being tormented and 
driven by humanitarian motives. Every true disciple of the 
creative intelligence is, to borrow Zola's epitaph, a moment 
in the conscience of man. In a time of the breaking of 
nations and classes the artist suffers the violence of the race, 
its corruption, and its deep, searing agony of hope. Like 
the victim-hero of Kafka, he stands in the prisoner's dock 
and is accused. Of what precisely he is accused he does 
not know, nor does it matter, since the namelessness of his 
crime does not minimize his guilt. The rules of the court 
are preposterously unintelligible, but that does not matter 
either, for by being what he is, imperfect, traduced, and 
human; by standing on trial, in his skin and with all his 
heritage; by receiving into himself the wounds of his brother- 
hood, he seizes on his destiny and adds it to the historic sum. 

The past is forever dying; it needs continually to be 
revived, lest it suffer dissolution and sift into oblivion. 
Malraux has expressed the view that the supremely ethical 
function of a work of art is not only to create itself hot to 
re-^create the long tradition that has made it possible. As 
the human embryo recapitulates the evolutionary development 
of the primate body, so the poem repeats for us man^s 

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POETRY : A Magazine of Verse 


spiritual ascent, identifying whoever shares in its beauty 
with those obscure thousands under the hill of time who 
once climbed . . • and climb again ... the forbidding slope. 
Without that identification, without that trimphant leap 
of sympathy back to the Cro-Magnon cave artists, the singers 
of the Psalms, the clay-befriending worker at the potter’s 
wheel, and all such fellows everywhen and ever 3 rwhere — 
without that healing and redeeming bond, time itself would 
crumble and expose the worm. There is only one artist, 
the true, recurrent undying wanderer, the eternally guilty, 
invincibly friendly man, 

A purged and etiolated art, one separated from the desire 
for a good life, is vain and unfructifying. The artist — and 
this is why the dictators fear him — ^will speak, because he 
must, for those souls and values that have been dispossessed ; 
ironically, tragically cry out with the guilty heart of those 
’ who have dispossessed them or permitted the usurpation. 
Even in the abstract, without overt accusation, a good poem 
rejects all bad poetry and all loose thinking. The aim of the 
authoritarian state is to fasten on the population a common, 
changeless, and submissive mask. The artists are squashed or 
eai5)elled, because, being independent makers of masks whose 
virtue is to permit man to see himself perfect and ennobled, 
compete vrith the national monopoly in false-faces. 
Against the superimposition on civilization pf the State- 
manufactured persona, the artist, with those who stand beside 
forms the last line of re^tance, tougher than armies, 
for armiea fold it easier to win a war than a victory. The 

[ 92 ] 



The Single Conscience 


general and the Fiihref, though they may fight against each 
other, are both of them, in the end, face-grinders. You will 
find in the soldier’s kit a bundle of undifferentiated masks. 

What hope we have lies in the single, integrating, humani- 
tarian conscience of the men of culture, nourished by partici- 
pation in the tremendous striving of the masses for a life 
less mean, less blighted, less ignoble, more light and free. We 
need to turn from the men of will and order, those with the 
fanatic righteous eye and the unmarried ethical principle, who 
have no dedication but to the rules and regulations for the 
efficient conduct of life in an organized society. “O ye 
Religious,” cried outraged Blake, ‘‘discountenance every one 
among you who shall pretend to despise Art and Science!” 
The New Moralists of our age, with their death-dealing 
hatreds and abominations, have taught us to understand the 
sterilizing passion of the desert saints and the hitherto almost 
inconceivable brutality of the holy massacres, inquisitions, 
and wars. Moralism divides — church from church, nation 
from nation, race from race, and man from man. 

If Morality was Christianity, Socrates was the Saviour. 

Art degraded, Imagination denied, War governed the Nations. 

To those who complain of the futility of creative efiBort 
in a time so shaken, I would say that no time has been 
in greater need of a compelling and representative art. The 
only measure of a man’s usefulness is the extent to which h® 
exercises his talent, according to the laws of his own growth^ 
for the common good. The artist is wasted driving naife. 
Let the painter go back to his easd and the writer to his 

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POETRY: A Magazine of Verse 

desk. Whatever has long endured in*- the veneration of man- 
kind — even the Eternal Being — ^has been the product of the 
poetic genius. It would be arrogant for us to presume that 
the most benevolent of deities would be willing forever to 
save a civilization that does not carry in its heart those two 
companion humilities named by Keats : the principle of beauty 
and the memory of great men. 

Stanley J, Kunitz 


ONE VIEW OF HOUSMAN 

M ore than half of Mr. Gow's book^ is devoted to a 
bibliography of Housman’s numerous writings, almost 
entirely on subjects connected with classical scholarship. The 
few pages that list his work on English literature or more 
g^eral subjects do not profess to be complete. Of more 
immediate interest are the fifty-odd pages that contain a 
memoir of the poet-scholar. The two men did not know 
each other until Hpusman went to Cambridge, and the treat- 
ment of the early years is slight. In the account of the later 
years attotion is chiefly paid to Housman, the scholar. There 
is consequently no homage paid to the vulgar taste that is 
mote interested in poets than in poetry. Yet occasionally 
in this book and more particularly in the small volume of 
astMcdote and reminiscence written by his relatives and 

A Sketchy by A, S. F. Oow. Macniillari. 

[ 94 ] 



One View of Housman 


friends we can see the beginning of a Housman legend, a 
new creation, neither the man n5r the poet, a treatment that 
has a£Eected posthumously the two Lawrences. 

The result is plain. The problems that are posed, if we 
permit them to be, by this personality are so perplexing 
to amateurs of soul analysis that, just as early admirers of 
Housman’s poetry confused that poetry with their own per- 
sonalities, so their successors will now confuse the poetry 
with the poet’s personality, finding elucidation for the one 
in the other and becoming bad scholars and worse critics. 
And yet there is some justification for this. Housman’s 
poetry needs finally a key, a key which can come only from 
our knowledge of the poet. This is really an indictment of 
the poetry, but to Housman it would not have seemed a 
defect. His own taste in English poetry was plainly a prefer- 
ence for that poetry which might be interpreted as personal 
statement. His formula, ‘‘transfusion of emotion,” implies 
a communication theory of poetry in its most inchoate form. 
But most of us for whom poetry is a making or a creation, 
and not a communication, will find flaws in his work arising 
from the effort to communicate, and what others regard as 
code or incantation will seem bad workmanship. 

If we 6Duld, we would avoid recourse to consideration of 
the person in our effort to make judgments about the poetry. 
At first sight it seems possible. The poetry seems to be there, 
bare and plain, obvious to inspection, inviting a quick approval 
or disapproval. And usually when in our youth we first 


[ 95 ] 



POETRY: A Magazine of Verse 


read this verse we gave our whole-hearted approval. The 
forms are simple and traditional; they do not contradict the 
subject matter that they carry, nor do they require any 
extension of the normal reader*s sympathy. The subject 
matter is general to mankind, the familiar topics of centuries 
of human experience. The style is easy and chaste; Words- 
worth and the simpler romantic poets have trained our 
sensibilities to its ready acceptance. The symbols are co- 
herent and concrete without obscurity. They make little 
demand upon any reader^s erudition or ingenuity. As a result, 
Housman’s audience was as wide and as acquiescent as any 
in the last half century. 

But repeated reading brings confusion and question. The 
forms are simple, to be sure, but they are also mechanical. 
Four ^d five line stanzas are reiterated and arbitrary; the 
iambic and anapaestic movement becomes perpetual and bor- 
ing, The frequency of feminine endings and the tight and 
heavy rhyme-schemes produce a monotony which makes us 
question the poet^s extent of talent in simple verse-handling. 
Working as Housman did in short breathed lyrics — ^his longer 
poems are always the weakest — ^he was unable to create much 
interest or value by file structure of the poem. There is 
always jtttlje interior direction or movement, the last stanza 
has ^iWly seen no advance ot change from the first, except 
wher« these has been the surprise twist of the conventional 

The subject matter & general and at the same time r^nark- 
ahly Ihmted: "^G^ther ye rosebuds,” suicide, military glory, 

[ 96 ] 



One View of Housman 


the transitoriness of beauty and love, nostalgia, the certainty 
of death — ^in general, the tendency of the earth to revolve. 
These banalities, expressed by a banal technique, have grown 
out of an attitude that must be described as adolescent. The 
embittered Epicureanism, the pessimistic conception of destiny, 
the whine about the laws of God and man, all seem 
somewhat less than half a philosophy. The order that Hous- 
man created in his own experience rested upon categories 
that deny admission to most of human life. His wisdom is 
trivial, tricked out with a self-advertising stoicism. 

The style is easy, but its very ease betrays its essential 
carelessness. The word that might startle comes rarely. 
The precise and unexpected word that might define the 
poet’s intention and compel a readjustment of the reader’s 
expectancy never occurs. Perhaps Bringj in this timeless 
grave to throw provides the few exceptions. Normally the 
reader is never required to dissolve long united connotations 
nor to create new combinations. He merely has to follow 
the poet in a usual groove. The ‘^transfusion of emotion” 
is actually only a reimpression by stereotyped words, phrases, 
and ideas. 

The symbols of Housman’s poetry are concrete and co- 
herent, but meaningless without an act of faith on the part 
of the reader. The gajlows, sunset, scarlet uniforms, day, 
the perpetual “lads” and the occasional “lasses” are irritating 
and banal. They are dnemarstuff, the residue of the tedious 
books we read and dreamed about in childhood. They operate 
only if we are willing tn assume their validity, if we mxtmr 

[973 



POETRY : A Magazine of Verse 


der reflection and merge with the illiterate. Notably* the 
religious symbols (as in The Carpenters Son and Easter 
Hymn) assume an attitude of conventional belief, and the 
intended shock can be secured only in that case. One must 
cite as an exception to Housman's usual symbolism The 
Welsh Marches. Here the symbol of the Saxon and the ideas 
of early England and strife that are evoked develop, obscurely 
but interestingly, the theme of the poem, internal conflict. 
The reader’s imagination has been released and permitted to 
respond without prejudice. But normally Housman depends 
upon just such prejudice and his poetry consequently depends 
for its popiJarity upon mere fashion. 

The predicament of the simple reader is plain. Here is 
verse which can excite and move him and which makes large 
statements that claim his faith. If he submits, however, to 
these claims he is in the end baffled, for the poetry does not 
justify its statements nor for all its apparent effect does it 
advance his understanding. The simple reader is unwilling 
or unable to realize that Hoxisman has merely imparted 
rhythmical form and conventionally poetic diction to the 
readef s own ciaotic, limited and banal experience. Con- 
sequently he hopes that there is something more, that this 
k poetry d clef, and that a biography will help matters out. 
B'nt unfortunatdiy neither Mr* Glow’s memoir, pleasant read- 
ing though it is, nor other works of testimony by friends 
emA r4atives really help, Housman was retic^t and solitaiy. 
There nemain the gossip that circulates in common rooihs 
aiild reviewexs’ articles and the dark hints of eventual tWela- 

[ 98 ] 



One View of Housman 


tions. The simple reader must be content with these. 

But another problem arises for other readers even though 
its final statement may be in terms of the same elements, 
Housman was not only a writer of poetry, he was also one 
of the first scholars of the world. The three books of verse 
may be disregarded but the prose that constituted the great 
bulk of his writing cannot be. The prefaces to his editions 
of Latin poets and even his casual articles and reviews are 
the work of one of the few contemporary masters of prose 
writing. Here is excellent wit-writing, a disciplined style 
that was perfect for its purpose and which transcended its 
purpose so as to make the minutiae of an apparatus criticus 
matters of immediate concern and delight to the least scholar- 
ly by-stander. Here the living emotions of hatred, scorn and 
contempt that were blurred and reduced in his verse have 
received their fit exposition and by the excellence of their 
form have become general to mankind. Here also when 
Bentley or Heinsius is named is the honest expression of 
admiration and love which were furtive and indefinite and 
impersonal in the poems. The qualities that make a great 
classical scholar, such as accuracy and saturation in a language 
and literature, have no necessary relation to the qualities of 
a poet, and there is no reason to believe that Housman^s 
scholarship had the slightest connection with his verse. But 
it provided the substance for remarkable prose, 

Housman declared that he was not a literary critic and 
The Name and Nature of Poetry proved that he was right 
It is ndther incisive nor persuasive; it is merely personal. 

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POETRY : A Magazine of Verse 


However, his fragmentary parody ©f a Greek tragedy is 
actually excellent criticism," in large part of English transla- 
tions, but also, in part, of Greek tragedy itself. Its implica- 
tions as to what we really understand and appreciate in 
Greek tragedy are unpleasantly satirical. It suggests, as 
does the tone and structure of much of his prose, that his 
literary genius found wit and satire natural forms of expres- 
sion, and that it was alien to the romantic lyric. 

Such a judgment involves what one would wish to avoid, 
a judgment about Housman’s personality. Yet recourse to 
such aid is inevitable when one contemplates the discrepancies 
of his achievement. His experience, which seemed to him 
to require a sentimental expression, became whole only when 
he^cured the compiarative detachment of prose and satire. 
Further than that there is as yet insufficient evidence for 
analysis, and it is doubtful whether in any case the problem 
would be one for a literary critic. He plainly suffered from 
his ability to live in compartments; his knowledge of Latin 
poetiy ou^t to have shown him the weaknesses in his own. 
He suffered also from the fashions of his time. Henley's 
Intdcms had established a mode of self-assertion whidi re- 
ceived only sEghtly less blatant expression from Housman, 
and what passed for a philosophy in Hardy was pfainly 
qotagadial. But he did not have Hardy^s poetic sfctU, and 
ht^ verse must serve simply as a belated document to illustrate 
that eweer p<^lar phrase, fin de siMe, 

Lazurmas Leigktcht 


[ 100 ] 



^^Lost Between Wars" 


REVIEWS 

"■"lost between wars"' 

U. S, Ij by Muriel Rukeyser. Covici-Friede. 

M uriel RUKEYSER'S first book, Theory of Flight, 
provoked public predictions for her future and the 
future of revolutionary letters which recur to us now, in the 
face of her present production, as having been somewhat 
extravagant. This does not mean that she has lost the qualities 
which caused her work to be considered in many quarters a 
signal for the revival of poetic energy; rather, that she has 
not been able to eliminate ideological immaturities and 
technical weaknesses which, while fairly easily forgiven in 
a poet’s first work, become severe irhpediments to pSetic 
progress if they are seen to persist in a later volume, Allen 
Tate, writing an introduction to a young poet’s first offering, 
advised against his being watched too closely, observing that 
‘‘the constant speculation about the future of young poets 
afiJicts them with a paralyzing self-consciousness.” While 
such speculation seems to have produced the revefese of 
paralysis in Miss Rukeyser, the result appears to have been 
no less damaging. I feel sure liat the publication of many 
of the poems in this book, if the author is as important a 
poet as I think she is, will become an increasing source of 
embarrassment to her. 

One admires Miss Ruk^rser’s inyentiveness in the first sec- 
tion, Book of the Dead; and one admires also her intentional 

tioii 



POETRY: A Magazine of Verse 


which are ambitious to the point of audacity. The Book of 
the Dead is intended as part of a planned longer work which 
will ‘‘produce an evaluation of the Atlantic Coast of the 
United States in terms of the U. S. highway which runs 
down it from Maine to Key West, and in terms, also, of 
the people and the movements which have made the seaboard 
the most varied and exciting in the world.” A highway, one 
supposes, is a good enough starting-point for such an evalua- 
tion, but unfortunately the signs of the road lead her into 
fields that have been more adequately explored and more 
tersely recorded by journalists. 

Critics who interpret literature from a Marxian viewpoint 
have dispensed with the elementary question of what poetry 
should or should not concern itself with, the arguments 
against the use of propaganda in poetry having been refuted, 
by this time, by the opposition's own examples; but the larger 
question of the most appropriate means by which the poet 
can make effective use of propaganda continues to be debated. 
I jfavor Miss Rukeyser's more subjective poetry rather than 
that modeled after leaflets. Not that leaflet writing does not 
call ffir an ability of no small proportions; but leaflet writ- 
ing, as well as poetry trying for the same effect, would 
apjpear to be an immediate and transitory art as opposed to 
one 'vybfch ainas for permanence. 

It is the middle section of Miss Rukeyser's book which 
deserves serioxxs attention. Here she writes not as a self- 
appomted emissary of justice out for an investigation, or a 
Carrie Nation with a political hatchet oij a Cook’s tour, but 

[ 102 ] 



^'Lost Between Wars** 

rather as a woman who* has her Qwn maladjustments which 
she places against and relates to the larger universal ones. 
This section is really her book, 59 pages out of 114, a group 
long and good enough to stand alone. The poems expand 
beyond their personal motivation, making use of bold modern 
language and the shocking image, arriving finally at inevit- 
able discoveries : 

we cast about for love, lost between wars, 
alone in the room and every streetlight out. 

Who’s to rise to it, now that ruin’s made, 
now that we’re petrified in the pale looking-glass, 
our glossy scars, our books, our loss, 
caught in the narrowest final pass? 

And all our heroes are afraid. 

The Flashing Cliffy The Child Asleep, Course, Lover as Fox, 
The Drowning Man, Girl at Flay, are fine achievements 
which have not been duplicated to my knowledge by any 
other poet of the thirties. It is interesting, if disturbing, to 
note that many of the poems in this section are among the 
most obscure in the book, filled with complicated symbolism 
and imagery which for its origin is indebted to surrealism. 
The meaning of the poems is rarely diflilcult, but the final 
effect is as if the poet doubted the value of her content 
and hid it beneath a barrage of unintelligible language. A 
spasmodic use of gnrticles, rapid-fire associatiorjial images, 
and distortions of structure do not tend to make the readeris 
going any easier. But the sustained intensity, the energy, are 
still there. 

If Muriel Rufceyser can learn to control her" fonchiess for 
rhetoric and can be convinced that not every subject which 

[103] 



POETRY: J Magazine of Verse 


comes to mind or every experience in which she plays a part 
is a proper subject for poetry, she may yet — since she is still 
young — fulfill the hopes which have been placed in her. 

Willard Maas 

RAYNER HEPPENSTALt^S POETRY 

Sebastian j by Rayner Heppenstall. London: J. M. Dent & 

Sons. 

We hear rumors of a full new batch of young English 
poets who are occupied with religion. So far their works are 
not easily available in this country. Among the younger 
poets we do know, both English and American, a purely 
social gospel is more popular. 

Rayner HeppenstalPs latest book of poetry, Sebastian, 
would be interesting if only because it is occupied with tho 
reliction of a Christian individual to God. But it is, ipore* 
over, a d^tinguished book. The ambit is less wide than 
Eliot’s- The frame of reference is less far-reaching and 
^riti^jg, both intdlpitually and from the point of view" of 
sensibility. But one can be espedajly thankful fpr the com- 
ply la<i of the charlatan in Mr. HeppenstalL We arc 
free enough froin those poets whose entire po^ic IHe 
consists of adopting significant postitres before an effective 
diSppti not to be grateful fpr such inasculine honesty and 
t^tness of mind as this poet shows. Poetry of young 
authors is apt to sag, to give the effect of having gone out to 

soniptltfng to write about. Mr. HeppenstaU’s fr full- 
hndiiify!^ 


[ 104 ] 



Rayner HeppenstaWs Poetry 


This reviewer, at least, would have been more satisfied if 
the author occasionally turned his gaze from the white light 
of beatitude. One feels that the point of view expressed in 
this book is, for the poet, a very special one, not assimilated 
into his general living. This may well be false; in these 
matters it is hard to assign causes for what one feels, 
although one feels with a conviction only deepened by suc- 
cessive readings. But one would like here a poetry that was 
not so dryly expository and ratiodnative, which caught up 
the reader’s everyday imagination into a new context. One 
thinks, for example, of Donne, who will speak of God and 
his mistress in the same poem and in so doing throw both 
ideas into dramatic relief. Otr of Eliot who, always mindful 
of his audience, will bring the burden of his speech home 
to them with such lines as: 

O miserable cities of designing men, 

O wretched generation of enlightened men, 

Betrayed in the mazes of your ingenuities, 

Sold by the proceeds of your proper inventions. 

One could wish for a tighter juxtapositian of contrasting 
ideas; and that, when speaking of the world of Sense, die 
poet would giye it sensuous body instead of obscuring its 
outlines with the white li^t of his vision. 

Mr. Heppenstall’s first volume of poetry appeared in 
l^igland in 1935. I have not been able to secure a copy of 
it. His prose volumes, Middleton Murry aiid Apology for 
Dandng, show the same cleanness of language and subtlety 
of intellection as the present poems. But it was sigmhcant to 
find that Mr. Heppenstall’s prose is more distinguished as 

[ 105 ] 



POETRY: A Magazine of Verse 


prose than the present voliune as poetry. That is to say that 
the peculiarly heightened quality of poetry, the immediacy 
of impact which make it a separate sort of speech are not 
sufiSciently in evidence here. Yet it is important to say that 
this is very fine language, stamped with taste, showing an 
admirable restraint and distrust of the ^‘lush habit of speech.” 
At his best Mr. Heppenstall attains the dignity and quiet 
music of the following: 

I mil have patience. Above all things, I will be patient. 

I knelt, last year, 

With John of Ruysbroeck. And he showed me how it is possible, 
for the small flame 

Of the soul, to be blown into a conflagration that laps 
God round whole, 

How the spirit will bound up like an arrow, like the 
strenuous lark. 

William Gilmore 
THE SOURCES OF OUR THOUGHT 

The Modern Mw4^ by Michael Roberts. Macmillan. 

Mi;. Roberts’ study of poetry and religion level-headed, 
magnanimous and pessimistic. His book is a defense of each, 
by an a^^tack on their misrepresentations. His theme is the 
won-scientific use of the mind. At a time when most discus- 
sions pf it are degraded by hysteria, he aims no guns at reason. 

He traces religious decay to that “realism” by which St 
Tkoxw attempted to digest Aristotk for the Church. St 
Xhomas argued feom particular to universal to restate a 
it wais, too ea^ for naany others to argue in the same 
way in order tio command a future, Thomas’s axioms for 

[ 106 ] 



The Sources of Our Thought 


dealing with sensuous, impressions were the basis of his 
theology, but he was interested in verbal proofs. Among the 
scientists who welcomed his method and used it for other 
purposes, all knowledge which was not quantitative gradually 
lost ground. In philosophy, Hobbes resulted. 

The Nineteenth Century, sold out intellectually to quan- 
tities, imagined that Darwin proposed a great dilemma and 
thus stated the religious problem falsely. It was not a ques- 
tion of either the “facts” of religion or the “facts” of science. 
It was a question of the differing sources and uses of scientific 
and religious knowledge. 

There is not much that is startling in this analysis. There 
is even less that surprises in Roberts’ study of poetry’s de- 
creasing prestige. But the development of his point of view 
serves to introduce a useful study of that particular sub- 
servience to physical science which seems to underly Tennyson 
as much as Housman. One questions, however, the implica- 
tion that both were weak in logic rather than sensibility, and 
victims of the times. The essence of Housman is the rigidity 
of his tone; Tennyson alone can be accused of an unwilling- 
ness to use his head. 

The postures of poetry and religion are rightly seen by 
Roberts as parts of the same crisis of order. He compares 
Herbert and Vaughan to Housman and Hardy in order to 
show the limitations of the recent men, and succeeds. But 
the reasons that he adduces are not all the reasons, nor the 
best. First, devotional poetry is essentially diflferent ftopa 
other poetry; and the metaphysicals are not superior because 

[ 107 ] 



POETRY : A Magazine of Verse 


of their acts of faith. Second, Herbert's personal maturity 
exceeds that of Housman or Hardy, and he is poetically 
superior to them by the greater control of language which 
follows that. 

Roberts' study of the church's dilemma is more especially 
a study of Catholicism. His fine dismissal of false barriers 
to faith, accenting again the half-unwilling materialism of 
the Nineteenth Century, is excellent. Re-emphasizing the 
foolishness of faiths based on scientific data, he neatly dis- 
embowels the atom-and-pulley-deities of contemporary theism. 
He does not fail to show how the churches in general have 
invited their own wreck by trying to unite a fundamentalist 
logic with a materialist temper. His argument for the use- 
fulness of a church to the healthy-minded who need it is both 
dearand credible. As might be expected, it is on the theologi- 
cal ground, where the assumption of free will and the examin- 
ation of purposes is concerned, that he is strongest in argument 
and most useful in context. 

Hfe weakest point is that, like many others, he will not 
suffidently recogniz;e the predicament of the religious tempera- 
ment which is willing to turn to a church's authority but 
cannot find a respectahle one. For he does admit the slow- 
ness of authority and hierarchy to purge themselves for the 
iimnediate task, And it should be added that even ii most 
churches should redse thdr theologies intelligently they could 
not regam the respect they have already lost — no matter how 
pecesspry and useful redirection is right now. There is 
f between the tradition of logic, which is theology, 

DOS] 



The Sources of Our Thought 


and the tradition of forms, which is religious emotion. Com- 
plete respect cannot be regained without revision of forms 
as well as motives. And the venal tactic perpetually post- 
pones this. 

His separation of church and state makes no sharp refer- 
ence to the present. His idea of a church as an anti-centrist 
force necessarily does. Totalitarianism as a heresy indicates 
a supreme opportunity for religious conservatism. Although 
he does not mention them, the Hitler-Niemoller quarrels 
are an instance. But is there not still the usual diiBculty of 
defining the heresy? Are all non-capitalist or non-feudal states 
totalitarian ? Mr. Roberts does not suggest the difference in 
historical relationships which make an anti-centrist church 
valuable in Germany, valueless in Russia. 

Since Roberts* interest in poetry turns principally toward 
verse as a devotional discipline, his view of it is intensely 
limited. He suggests, without adding any new order to th^ 
idea, that current disorder in poetry as in many other activi- 
ties results from a misplaced faith in “natural** law. H^ 
takes the trouble to explode anew the notion that Marxisipn 
is a religion of some kind. It is to be regretted that he does 
not investi^te the quasi-religious element^ of some “Marxist** 
poetry. And it is too bad that he finds no use for Hopkins, 
a subject on his immediate course, in his study of the Nine^ 
teenth Century. 

Roberts is level-headed because he sees through tjie 
sense of modem theisms and spiritualisms ; he is magnanxmous 
because all hfe “heresie;s** are treated with a shrewd sense 

[1091 



POETRY : A Magazine of Verse 


of their limited usefulness; he is pessimistic because the 
strongest statement he can make for religion as an institution 
is: ^*The churches may recover from their lethargy as the 
universities recovered at the end of the eighteenth century/’ 
It is more likely that the accumulating burdens of a scien- 
tific civilization will, in succeeding crises, create a new 
paganism. Then the witch doctors will alternatively terrify 
and soothe the populations with miracles of social organiza- 
tion. Faith will not require demonstration in a world in 
which the value of human life sharply decreases, but its 
forms will be those dictated by the most hypnotic madmen. 
Worship of the sky, stones, trees, and human beings is closer 
at hand than most people believe. 

Reuel Denney 


NEWS NOTES 

A number of interesting books by poets have been announced 
for publication this year by the London firms of Faber & Faber 
and Chatto & Windus. Among these are new collections of poems 
by Yeats, Prokosch, and MacNeice, and new plays by Eliot and 
Spender. Some of our readers have asked what our practice is in 
regard to reviewing English editions. We reply that we have no 
h^d wd fast polw. When an American edition has been sched- 
uled for early publication, we usually prefer to wait until the book 
has been issued in this country and is available to readers. When 
no American edition has been announced or promisee^ we sometimes 
pimt a review on the basis of the English edition, to keep our readers 
WKtotmed, and as a notice to publishers that the book in question 
m wi out^anding one and should be considered for American publi- 
jati^ An in^ce of this is the review of Rayncr Heppenstall 
m dhe present issue. 

A Bw m E:eat^ Jdof^ by Dorothy Hewlett, has just been 
in an American edition by ?obbs-Merrill. This unearths 
a ntunher of tacts not related in former biographies of the poet; 

[ 110 ] 



News Notes 


lacking the monumental, proportions of Amy Lowell’s work, it has 
the advantages of a compact form, a readable style, and a scholarly 
caution against overstatement. Our cursory first reading shows no 
mention of the last living person to bear the Keats family name, 
Miss Alice Keats, the poe^s grandniece, now living in Urbana, Ohio. 
Dorothy Tyler, a Detroit correspondent who visited Miss Keats, 
writes us: “This daughter of one of the sons of George Keats is 
active and alert, and though she had been described to me as a shy 
little person who could best be approached through her devotion to 
the poetry of Keats, I did not find her precisely so. I was delighted 
by what seemed to me a striking physical resemblance to the poet, 
not only in her small, compact, well-turned figure, but in facial 
expression and features, a characteristic tilt of the head, and espe- 
cially in her large dark eyes The resemblance to the portrait by 
Severn is especially notable. ... I was interested to learn that she 
was on the side of her grandfather and Sir Sidney Colvin in her 
opinion of Fanny Brawne.” AdonaisyviW be reviewed in a later issue. 

A modern streamlined version of the literary banquet was recently 
achieved by the Friends of American Writers at their annual 
Award Dinner, held at the Palmer House in Chicago. The feature 
of this enjoyable occasion was the presentation of a one thousand 
dollar award to the young novelist, William Maxwell — a record 
literary prize for the middle west, and one of the largest anywhere. 
In addition to this, a contribution of one hundred dollars was made 
to Poetry. Mrs. James Cooney, the president, gave a brief and 
eloquent talk on the importance of cultural values in these times; 
and the guests of honor, most of whom spoke for about a minute 
apiece, were deftly introduced by the toastmistress, Mrs. Samuel 
James. We acknowledge with pleasure the good wishes of this 
society, which is one we are particularly proud to have on our 
list of Guarantors. It has distinguished itself for result-^producing 
activity without fanfare, for wisdom and adventurousness in its 
prize awards, and for throwing an annual party in refreshing 
contrast to the usual grim event. 

Good occasional poems are sufficiently uncommon to daiwd 
notice. We congratulate Mount Holyoke College for having inspired, 
on the occasion of its recent centennial, the liyely sequence of 
Bundred Tear Poems by Roberta Teale Swartz. These poems, 
which have been issued in brochure, are full of vivid and spontane- 
ous lines; their upforced gaiety is the best tribute that opuld 
paid to a college by a poet graduate. The closing verses have a 
general application: 

[ 111 ] 



POETRY : A Magazine of Verse 


^‘Your health, Mount Holyoke — ^those, who know the rule, 
Text, method, fundamentals, but profess 
A college is a place where someone learns 
Unfolding his own answers, like the ferns/’ 

The Radio Division of the Federal Theatre has inaugurated a 
series of weekly programs, “Exploring the Arts and Sciences,” on 
Fridays at 9 :45 P. M. over WQXR. One of the recent broadcasts, 
entitled “New Poetry Coming of Age/’ was devoted to an inter- 
view with Sydney Salt, author of Christopher Columbus and Other 
Poems, Mr. Salt diagnosed the modern poet’s dilemma as follows: 
“The younger poets sacrificed too readily the metaphysical prob- 
lems in poetry, the inner meaning and struggle of man, for the 
actual conflict in its more outward forms; just as the elder 
poets persist in sacrificing the actual scene for metaphysical implica- 
tions. Today we find the actual world at variance with the inner 
vision of man — ^the basic equilibriunj of life broken. And these 
two camps represent the split in our life. But man’s primal hunger 
is for unity in life, in other words for vision and action to be 
whole. ... It is not a new struggle, although perhaps a more 
bitter one, between the old and the new, and what must emerge 
is a synthesis.” 


NOTES ON CONTRIBUTORS 

wiNfEEU) TOwmET SCOTT, of Providence, R. I., was born in 1910 
In Haverhill, Mass., went to Brown University, worked for a time 
tlie editoHal staff of The Providence Journal, and received our 
Gnaranthr^s Pria? in 1935- A book of his poems. Biography for 
Traman, was publi^ed last year by Covid-Friede. 

iff. B. MAiXhhiMV, of England, is one of the young poets mentioned 
by D. S. Saryage in his London letter, printed in our February Issue. 
Mr. MallaHeu’s work has appeared in The J^ation, Left ftemetw, 
The Listener, Tvoendeth Century Verse, etc. He has not yet pub- 
llsi^ 9 vol uye. 

sUptobR, who divides her time between New York and 
fibre Black Forest is a well-known contributor, the author of several 
books of poems inetuding PiddlePs faretwell and Pfahed Beeh She 
ayraided the Pulitzer pri;ze in 1926. * 

UBjoffo W5WI boirn in Holland and biought to this 
at the age of 13. After leaving his home in Grand Rapids, 

[ 112 ] 



Notes on Contributors 


Mich., he attended Duke and Brawn Universities, and has since 
lived in New York City a*nd Providence, R. L, where he collaborated 
in editing the verse magazine, Smoke, Recently awarded a Houghton 
Mifflin Fellowship, he is now working on a novel. 

GEORGE MARION O'DONNELL was bom in Midnight, Miss., in 1914, 
has contributed verse and prose to Poetry, The Southern Review, 
etc., and is the author of Return and Other Poems (Alcestis Press) 
with an introduction by John Crowe Ransom. 

CHARLES MALAM, a native of Vermont, was educated at Middle- 
bury College and attended Oxford on a Ixodes scholarship. He is 
the author of two books of poems. Spring Plowing and Upper 
Pasture, Present domicile, Astoria, L. I. 

SYDNEY SALT is a Philadelphian who after “considerable wandering 
of the states” now lives in New York City. He has published two 
books of poems, Thirty Pieces, and the recent Christopher Columbus. 

WILLIAM STEPHENS, born in Utah, has been a salesman, a laborer, 
a newspaper editor, etc., and is now working in Chicago on 
Esquire-Coronet. 

THOMAS w. DUNCAN, of Des Moines, la., was born in 1905 and 
educated at Harvard, has worked on newspapers and trouped the 
middle west as an actor. Author of a successful novel, 0 Chatauqua, 
as well as a book of poems. Elephants at War, 

In addition to Mr. Mallalieu, the following poets appear here 
for the first time: 

BORIS TODRIN is a native and resident of Brooklyn. In 1937 he 
was graduated from Columbia, where he is now doing advanced 
work. As an undergraduate, he edited The Columbia Review 
and received several awards for poetry. A book of his poems, 7 Mm, 
will be published in the fall by Putnam's, 

TOM BOGGS, editor, journalist, and radio commentator, was born In 
Pittsburgh in 1905, and now lives in New York. Author and c<«n- 
piler of several books, including the recent anthology 57 Neglected 
Lyrics, he is at present editing Lyrics in Brief, a collection cf 
little-lmown lyrics from longer poems. 

FLORENCE DICKINSON STEARNS, pf Richmond, Va., has had a varW 
career as journalist, advertising writer, teacher of verse technig^ 
and as a contributor of poems to many magazines, including Voices, 
The Lyric, The Saturday Evening Post, etc. For three years dhe 
was president of the Poetry Society of Virginia. 

KEEKER otJiNN is On the Engli^ faouTfy of tly UniyersSty df 
Illinois. He was editor the Uteraxy quartprly^ Diriecdon^ gpd has 

[ 113 ] 



POETRY : A Magazine of Verse 


contributed poetry and criticism to The Yale Review, The Virginia 
Quarterly, The New Republic, etc. 

THELMA PHLEGAR, of Bluetielti, Va., is at present teaching English 
and doing graduate work at Ohio State University.^ Her poems have 
appeared in a number of magazines and anthologies. 

All but one of this month’s prose writers are familiar contributors 
to Poetry: 

STANLEY j. KUNITZ, now resident in New Hope, Pa., is well known 
as poet and critic. He is editor of The Wilson Bulletin for Librarians 
and the author of a book of poems, Intellectual Things, Lawrence 
LEIGHTON, a new contributor, was born in Portland, Me., in 1904, 
and is now teaching Greek and Latin at Harvard. Some of our 
readers will remember his critical articles in The Hound and Horn. 
WILLARD MAAS, who has appeared frequently here as a poet, is the 
author of Fire Testament. He lives in New York City, reuel 
DENNEY, of Buffalo, is also well known as a poet, though he appears 
for the first time in our prose section, william gilmore, a native of 
Evanston, 111., was educated at Harvard, and was formerly on the 
staff of The Brooklyn Eagle. 

BOOKS RECEIVED 


ORIGINAL verse: 

Land of the Free, by Archibald MacLeish. Harcourt, Brace & Co. 
Said Before Sunset, by Frederidc Mortimer Clapp. Harper & Bros. 
The Fountain and the Bough, by Eileen Hall. Charles Scribner’s 
Sons. 

Htmk on the Wind, by August Derleth. Ritten House, Philadelphia. 
Semi King of Israel, by Victor S. Starbucfc. University of No. 

Carolina Press, Chapel HilL 
WH’be Moment, by Mabel Posegate. Dorrance & Co. 

Breaih of the Spirit, by Sister Maura. Macmillan Co., Toronto. 
Songs by the Wayside^ by Stanton A. Coblentz. Wings Press, N. Y. 
AlNWOLOGTOS; 

American Nasoal Songs and Ballads, edited by Robert W. Neeser 
Yale Univ, Press. 

The Oxford Book of Greek Verse in Translation, edited by T. F. 
Higham and C. M. Bowra* Oxford Univ. Press. 

[ 114 ] 



HARRIET MONROE 

FOUNDER AND EDITOR OF "POETRY" 


^ Toefs Jjf^ 

Seventy Years In 
A Changing World 

”She either discovered or gave early encour- 
agement to nearly every important American 
poet in this century/^ 

STERLING NORTH 

"If Harriet Monroe had not been born the 
whole history of American poetry would have 
been different/' 

FANNY BUTCHER 

"The honest and moving picture of a daugh- 
ter of 19th century culture who became leader 
of a 20th century rebellion." 

LEWIS GANNETT 

"A chapter in the history of American culture* 
American poets may be grateful and Ameri- 
can wongien proud that; Harriet Monroe lived." 
JOHN HOLMES 

$5,00 at any bookstore 


THE MACMILLAN COMPANY, NEW YO«K 


meriting ta a^erus^s pTmse PoKCsr 






Partisan Review 

America’s only independent left-wing 
literary magazine. 

“PARTISAN REVIEW continues to justify its existence 
with excellent monthly issues containing a generous assort- 
ment of essays, poems, fiction, and book reviews.’* 

POETRY: A Magazine of Verse 

“PARTISAN REVIEW continues to give me enormous 
pleasure. There has been nothing like this in America for 
years.” James Laughlin IV, Editor: NEW DIRECTIONS 
ARE YOU INTERESTED IN— 

FICTION AND POETRY? Then you will want to read, 
in the first five issues of PARTISAN REVIEW, work by 
Wallace Stevens, Delmore Schwartz, James Agee, £. E. 
Cummings, Eleanor Clark, John Dos Passos, James T. Far- 
rdO, Wl^eld Scott, Elizabeth Bishop, Kenneth Patchen, 
Parker Tyler, John Wheelwright, Ignazio Silone. 

CRITICISM? See Edmund WiWn’s essays on Flaubert 
and Henry James, William Troy on D. H. Lawrence, Lionel 
TrOlihg on John Dos Passos, Lionel Abel on Ignazio Silone^ 
F. W. Dnpee on Andre Malxanx, and reviews by 1^ P. 
Blaokmnr, F. 0. Matthiessen, Haiiry Levin, Philip Horton, 
thurton D. Zabdi. 

SOCIETY AND CULTURE? See Meyer Schapiro on 
“An ArchiteiiA’s Utopia*^; Sidn^ Hook on “Some Uses and 
Abuses of Semantics”; Dwight M.acdonald on ^The New 
For&eir”; PhiRp Rahv on “Trials of the Mind”; WlUiam 
Phillips m ^T!sdietio of fhe Founding Fathers”: Andre 
GideV “OiSRJR. Reconsidered.” 

THEATRE AND ART? Monthly chronicles by Mary 
MeCardiy a^d Geotge L. K. Morris. 

^ Twelve hsm^ far $2*S0 

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ways in which the pastoral form has been used in English 
literature. His book, with its keen insights into the real 
and often hidden elements of literature, will heighten the 
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past and provide a better understanding of the literary 
products of our own time. $2.50 

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Po^ns en^a^ying a solid strudsare of 
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$1,000 PRIZE CONTEST 

Can a Poet Save Our Democracy? 

The Fokum magazine has organized a prize competition for the most 
compelling poems challenging the American people to be alert to their 
liberties^ 

A total of $1,000 will be awarded In prizes. 

This nation won an independent existence not by some process of 
abstract thought but because her men and women burned for liberty. 
And now the terr^ying complications of a machine civilization have bred 
new forces which threaten the kind of government we call democracy 
and, with it, our hard>won and long'cherished freedom. Where are the 
poets who can compel us to maintain our hberty? 

In relating this poetry compeution to the major world issue of the day, 
the Editors are not seeking to ofler a theme but merely to strike a key- 
note. It is hoped to secure clear, uncomplicated texts which may be 
set to music 

The Editors hope that many leading American poets will be moved 
to enter the compeution which has been divided into groups, with prizes 
for each, as follows: 

A— GENERAL PUBUC 

Ist Prize $300 2fid Prize $150 3rd Prize $50 

B-COIXEGE UNDERGRADUATES 
1st Prize $150 2nd Prize $100 5rd Prize $50 

C-SECONDARY-SCHOOL STUDENTS 
1st Prize $1.00 2nd Prize $60 3rd Prize $40 

' FIXERS’ CONFESmCE EBUOWSHO* 

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^ CONSOLATION PRIZES 

A cbpf of •’*Jhe Comcdete Rhyming Picttbnary,**^ edl^ by Clement 
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IDcieLy to prc^t by it. 

lUDGES—Padiaic Cohim, "WtUiam ARan Neilson, Carl Van Doren 

INSTRUOIONS : — No poem i# to exceed 40 lines in length. Manu- 
scripts roast be addiressed to die Poetry Contest Editor; Tbz Forum; 570 
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Wketi fsriring ft> odoerrhers mention Pokcrt 


VoL LII 


26th Year of Publication 


No. Ill 


POETRY for JUNE 1938 

Five Poems . . . T H. H. Lends 115 

Farmhands’ Refrain — Lest Sympathy Function — Oink — 
Freedom, Inc. — Don’t Judge Him Too Harshly 

Colloquy E, L, Mayo 123 

The Single Name .... . Marie deL, Welch 124 

Words to Fix Time . Stephen Stepanchem 125 

Approach — ^Program: Arranged — ^Apocalypse — Hear Now the Gates 


Two Poems 

. . . . Lincoln Fitzell 128 

Echoes from a Precipice — Church Picnic 

Three Poems . . .... 

. Walter Hendricks 130 

Limitation — Spider Against Fly- 

-Bird in My Room 

Translations ... . . 

. Edith Franklin Wyatt 131 

Two Poems 

. . John Wheelvmght 132 

Kin — ^Link 


The Mate . . . . 

. . . . Keith Thomas 133 

Gone to Summer . .... 

Lloyd Frankenberg 134 

The Weather of the Dawn 

. Edvoard Weismiller 135 

Shadow — ^The Shape of Mountains — ^We Walk in Water 

Gardener .... ... 

. . . . Lori Petri 137 

Strange World 

. . . S. Funaroff 138 

Two Poems 

H. n. 139 

Sigel XV — ^From Episode I 


The Muse and Edmund Wilson . 

. . . . T, C, Wilson 144 

Reviews: 


Meaning and Being . . . 

. . . Babette Deutsch 153 

Natural History . . 

. . . Reuel Denney 156 

Aldington 1938 ... . 

. , . . Kerker Quinn 160 

A Notable Verse Play . . 

. . . Ruth Lechlitner 164 

News Notes .... 

166 

Notes on Contributors . . 

169 

Books Received .... 

172 


The Pegasus on the Cover by Eric Gill 

Published monthly. £ditonaI and Publication OBctSy 232 East Erie Street, Chica^, 
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b^uscripts must be accompani^ by a stamped seK-adih'essed envelope, or by 
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Entered as second class matter, November 15, 1912, at the posto8ice at Chica^, 
Illinois, under Act of March 3, 1879^ 

Copyright, 1938 , by W. S. Monroe and E. S. Fetcher, Executors 
All rights reserved 




POETRY 

A MAGAZINE OF VERSE 

VOL. LII NO. in 

JUNE 1938 


FIVE POEMS 
farmhands' refrain 

V/ OU Repocrat squires in the Farm Bureau, 
You Demirep lairds in the Grange, 

Your bigness content with the status quo 
And alarmed at the rumblings of Change, 

We’ll never go fascist to froth and kill 
For assuring the girth of your belts: 

Not ours, not ours the farms we till, 

We’re working for somebody else — 

Ranging somebody else’s ownsome ground, 
Lacking somebody elsc’s thrill, 

Haunting somebody eke’s too profound. 
Just a-ghostingfor somebody else! 

[ 115 ] 



POETRY : A Magazine of Verse 


We hirelings and sharecroppers here below, 
You thanes with your organized Front, 

We waking at last with the See-Eye-Oh, 

You in dread of an organized brunt, 

We’d languish till Gabriel ends it all, 

Should we wait till your apathy melts: 

Not ours, not ours the creed you bawl, 

We’re working for somebody else — 

Planting somebody else’s ownsome Spring, 
Reaping somebody else’s Fall, 

Making somebody else’s proudness ring, 
Just a-serfing for somebody else ! 

For you — all these versions of A.A.A., 

More money on top of your means. 

For us — ^yet the paltry six bits a day. 

Through winter for bedding and beans. 

No matter how far from the Dixon line, 

How unAfric the shade of our pelts : 

Not ours, not ours your class-combine, 

We’re working for somebody else — 

Milking somebody else’s ownsome cow, 
Calling somebody else’s swine, 

Doing somebody else’s chores, and how, 
Just a^-being for somebody else I 

[ 116 ] 



H, H. Lewis 


Our neighbors in Russia ‘‘belong” at least, 

No landlord impugning their worth ; 

Have much consolation of goods increased, 

If not the sole havings of earth. 

But here against “Liberty’s” lines and bars, 
What here on the chattelized veldts? 

Not ours, not ours the homes and cars, 

We’re working for somebody else — 

Breathing somebody else’s ownsome air, 
Counting somebody else’s stars, 

Finding somebody else’s god up there 
Just a-ghosting for somebody else! 

LEST SYMPATHY FUNCTION 

In enviable kitchens 
With ever5rthing so handy 
And white 
And clean, 

TTiey turn a knob, the motor hums, and down 
goes an all-inclusiveness that won’t dog 
the pipes. 

So that “the working dass should take care 
of its own,'’ 

Without garbage-grinders, 

Often without plumbing — 

On the other side of the railroad tracks. 

[ 117 ] 



H. jy. Lewis 


with the wild hogs, rooting at the site of Com- 
monwealth College, rooting, an ultimate cross- 
breed of homohogs rooting where once stood the 
Museum of Social Change. 


Oink, 

Away back into the future, 

Oink, 

Drove of these ultra amurkuns feeding also among 
the forested ruins of Little Rock — 

Oink, oink, 

So literally 

Getting to the root of the matter. 


Safe from Bolshevism, 

Lo, one halcyon homohog 

Perched overrunningly atop a strange pyramid 

and looking down, 

Trying to wonder for the moment, 

Oi, oi, ok-a-ugh, 

What the hell 
It’s all about 

(At a place once called Monte Ne 
In a region once known as Arkanjsas) — 

As the jerky micturation flows 
Not even with coniximpt 

Down that sealed pyramad containing Harvey^s 

[ 119 ] 



POETRY: A Magazine of Verse 


records of a civilization which had to be 
sacrificed because of one book entitled Das 
Kapital . . . 

FREEDOM^ INC. 

The capitalists own the preferred stock. 

The middleclass, the common stock. 

Where do we come in? 

After six depression years of inalienable 
right to seek jobs, how many and what 
kind of shares are ours in Freedom, 

Incorporated? 

Or as a Briton would ask, 

More trenchantly — 

In Freedom, Limited? 

You in particular. Unde Ned 

(Born a chattel slave), 

Are you now clipping enou^ Freedom coupons or 
would you and yours prefer the three square 
meals per day? 

L&ten, you farmhands. 

You miUhands, 

You hands unemployed, — 

How many of you have ever fondled the ticker tape 
tP see how Freedom is quoted outside Rooshia? 

[ 120 ] 



H, H» Lewis 


don’t judge him too harshly 

Johnny Teenling, 

One of our hezprizornie. 

Awoke amid the sardined americannegromexicanfilipino mass 
pounding its ear on the bare floor of a charity mission 
in Los Angeles. 

It stank, 

It sobbed in slumber, it whined brokenly, 

It screamed nightmarishly, awaking . . . 

Time for him to be up anyway, 

He unwedged his boyhood and staggered outside to search 
for a job. 

Restaurants open early. 

Sometimes yesterday’s dishwasher doesn’t reappear, allow- 
ing others a chance : 

Fifty cents a day and three edible meals. 

Those rotten mission sandwiches, 

Leftovers causing the fierce gripes, 

What must be avoided . . . 

He never had been strong anyway. Mom wrote, you’ll die 
from eating that stuff. 

And that mission floor, 

Paralyzing shoulder and hip. 

Making him hobble along crookedly like some old, old dere- 
lict. 


[ 121 ] 



POETRY: A Magazine of Verse 


And these mission lice 

Of Christianity 

Burning his crotch like “dogpush,” ow-nw, but he shouldn’t 
yelp outright, shouldn't break into a run, away up here 
on Main Street now, dinging slummy restaurants for a 
job, vying with other dingbuzzards, the whole dang 
Climate-paradise overswarmed with panicky lousers. . . . 

It itchingly twitched, 

A cornice fell. 

It shuddered loathingly, 

Jerrybuildings crumbled ; 

Here came a slue of us cot-tobogganing streetward down the 
top floor of a scratchhouse whose rear wall alone 
remained standing. 

More hungry than conscientious, 

Glomming on to ‘‘the act of God” as distinguished from 
those of other grownups, 

Johnny entangled himself with a bedsheet and played hurt . . . 

Gee for some good grub! 

Gee for a bath! 

Geefor aboilup! 

The siren on die ambulance rushing him to the hospital could 
not scream any louder than his logic: 

GEE TOR MORE SUCH EARTHQUAKES! 

if. H. Leufis 



COLLOQUY 


Because it is the mind and has its nature^ 

Because so little of the earth is left it, 

It will observe with interest, and accurately, 

The coming on of its own end. The fight 
Is over; the triumphant earth, too ignorant 
To know that it has won, is drinking beer 
At Tony’s place around the corner. The victim 
Studies the balanced ledgers of defeat 
And thinks of no more thinking. Clever death 
Has done the brain-work, added all the sums, 

And snapped the book togetiier. 

Well, old mind, 

Are you free? 

Beyond desire and possibility. 

How will you push up earth, then, strcngthless one? 

My labor’s not to push ; it is to see, 

And I see very well that what is done 
Is done, and all the fears flesh felt for me 
Are broken like the threads of Lilliput, 
Leaving me what I am. 

O, speak to me, 

And tell me you are sorry for your strife. 

Sorry ? Oh no. Mine was a merry life. 

Pain frightened me 

Until my own flesh felt it. Now I see 

[ 123 ] 



POETRY: 


A Magazine of Verse 

That everything I ever feared before 
Was hearsay, and each actual pain I bore 
Came in the purest spirit of comedy. 

E, L, Mayo 


THE SINGLE NAME 

We see the fruited branch 
Follow the branch in flower; 

The flower has not fallen 
But the fruit is there. 

The flower has not fallen 
But the name is gone. 

^Vhere is the name of the other 
In the name of the one? 

The seed of the one lying 
Quick at the other’s core 
Forbids the single name 
Of fruit or flo\<rer. 

Yet we must name and name, 

For though the name obscures 
The whole of which we’re part. 

The part we name is ours. 

Marie DeL. Welch 


[ 124 ] 



WORDS TO FIX TIME 


APPROACH 

I came to them by sea, in the steady wash 
of a full tide and a flood of sunlight, 
luxurious and silent. 

I came where the waters touched gray cliffs, 
sharp as the winds they knew, rising 
cathedral-like to the fallen tombs 
shaded by cypress, walled a^inst the town. 
Here as the sky spent gold 
on grateful waters, by their sculptured tombs 
I watched the tide my fathers loved, and saw 
cold gulls meet land birds flying to the sea. 


program: arranged 

Night lights from sky and shore 

fleck the oars. The prow dips in the waves. 

Across the bay, distantly, windows of 

home, faith, civilization, and the many virtues 

crowd the landing, reflected in the stream 

like stars, dehumanized. 

The bay, crossed, 

shakes loose, and the image breaks; 

the oars as wings recover in the dark 

[ 125 ] 



POETRY : A Magazine of Verse 


a heart and voice, that now 
the muflSed bird may reawake its call 
to forest blood, repeating in the night 
the words of love and loneliness it knows. 

And you, forever absent from this coast, may be 
a citizen of lights, on fertile plains 
blessed by the donor Venus, naked to her hand : 
or, in the world of cities, brow-beat sycophant, 
may coin men’s hearts with begging in the street. 

I cannot envy or condemn or change. 

The program is arranged. 

Still, the black bay by the wharf invites 
rebe^ion against broods fed in the home-light; 
and here, as the frogs croak by the lumber mill, 

I sit and court the winds and say your name. 

APOCALYPSE 

Now from the bursting cataracts, down rock-worn canyons, 
rush flood waters, rush boulders ungoverned for the dread fall 
down glader-split mountain passes, rending tree-trunks, 
smashing dams, houses, barns, surging on gulfs 
i mm easurably simdered, as long tremors through 
file crumbling caverns tell of temblors, as the earthciuake 
shakes again the scene unmade, torpedoing the world.^ 

Bring now Job or Prometheus, the good titans of the myths 

C 126 ] 



Stephen Stepanchev 


known to us, here on the verge of apocalypse let them feel 
a strength neither love nor hate on the unsure earth, 
and utter a dark scorn to pitying minds 
which give to mountains nerves, to the universe a heart, 

HEAR NOW THE GATES 

Hear now the gates slowly opening as the night 
invades our questioning ears, weaving in the flood 
of our fluid dreams the syllables of unuttered hopes. 

Evening into evening we pray for wakefulness, 
with needs to be paid for patience, love rewarded, 
life to receive the broken bread of homage. 

But always, always life dissolves; objects become thought; 
words to fix time fade ; memory quavers asleep 
even as hurrying trains hurtle us homeward 
with glimpses of the moon, even as forgotten faces 
move in the grace of greeting, or retreat in whispers. 

Lips, substanceless as words, move without context, 
fitfully; fingers weave meaningless gestures, resolve 
into the motion of trains, reach into time. 

Then it is love, love, we call, as we wade 
through deep air, up steep stairs. Love, love: 
once more hammer the failing vision into shape. 

Form into full coherence table, eye, and mind. 

Give us a flowering world, but let it be rocL 

Stephen Stepanchev 


[ 127 ] 



POETRY : A Magazine of Verse 


TWO POEMS 

ECHOES FROM A PRECIPICE 

Earth-captive comrades and the sun 
Rise weary to the wasted hills. 

But thought’s night-shadow plies the tongue, 
Word-clamor of death-shaping mills. 

Outside, the rock and greasewood smoke, 
Wave-crackle of a desert brine. 

Dust-rattle of the snake and choke 
Within, the poisoned minutes twine. 

There is no stopping in this brush, 

Halfway from peak and harvest plain. 

From thorny woods bronze passage crush 
To fields in leaf or fruit’s steep realm. 

Rest not in midpath, carve your crown 
On rock a thousand feet in ice; 

Plow deep the valley though you drown 
In green your labor’s precipice. 

These withered knolls leaf like the tomb, 
From danger’s peak alone is view 
Of the world you seek, heroic bloom 
That summithedge and doomed hands grow. 



Lincoln Fitzell 


CHURCH PICNIC 

Leaning by a pebble-brook 
In a sandy, tangled shade, 

Quiet elders doze or look 
Placidly across the glade. 

For in Sunday talk abreast. 

Passing workers gravely hope 
That rough laboring is blessed, 

And their paths to heaven slope. 

After speech a man feels good, 

Full of strength to bowl his will, 

Or, with loud affection rude, 

To rouse warm echoes from the hill. 

Freshened by the water’s flow, 

Daylight cools with summer ease ; 

Couples in the leafy glow 
Carve their names on river trees. 

Lincoln Fitzell 


[ 129 ] 



POETRY : A Magazine of Verse 


THREE POEMS 

LIMITATION 

A cup was dismayed to find 
With dipping it took 
No more away from the ocean 
Than out of a brook. 


SPIDER AGAINST FLY 

Slung in the center of his silken wheel 
A hairy lump of feigning drowsiness 
Flashes alert at the first desperate tug 
Of a winged insect caught and in distress. 

Not too hastily does the spider run 
But like a boy a-fishing fingers the thread. 
He sends an ironic message down the wire : 
If you are there, he says, then you are dead. 


BIRD IN MY ROOM 

Bird in my room, how came you within ? 
Falcon in sty, mirage of a shelter, 

Or ominous sign to accuse and accurse 
Me lost in a windowless room of the world. 

[ 130 ] 



Widter Hendricks 


Quick, find the way out the way in you came. 

Take your wild beating of wings from my heart, 
Convulsive connotations out of my brain, 

Of a far-seeking bird that I too once was. 

Walter Hendricks 


TRANSLATIONS 

How does a child learn all our ways of speech ? 

Perhaps as one foresees when skies are gray 
The lines of coming rain — things time can teach 
And quiet-changing life lived day by day. 

How does one learn the subtler ways of love — 

Such love as lasts through all one’s life? Who knows? 
And taking thought will never tell whereof 
That flower of the range of living grows. 

Nor black December tell, nor green-leaved May, 

Only still-changing life lived day by day. 

Perhaps, breathed with one’s breath, as love and speech 
Down our clear mystery in time’s deep air 
Are learned without one’s knowledge, so for each 
Death too will come upon us unaware. 

Edith Franklin Wyatt 


[ 131 ] 



POETRY : A Magazine of Verse 
TWO SONNETS FROM MIRRORS OF VENUS 


KIN 

Indigo and Zodiac with tangent bubbles 

to bubbles separate these cherished 

arduously discovered you’s and me’s 

who smell of resembled smells no longer 

in sleepless nostrils ; though, like the space-caressing 

legs of a compass, the smile of pride 

(circular, self-confined, centrifugal, from inside out) 

configurate immortal me’s and you’s. 

Tenderly ruptured pride alone 
builds up barricades of communion 
where in many-eyed, unblinking stares 
before the milkman clinks his jars 

tangent or separate foams of you's and me's collapse and fuse 
from outside in ; one sapphire and yet conscious spiraL 


LINK 

Had you not died, our friendship might be dead 
for the world it was born to died in war 
and may drag on only m avatar; 
yet how I wish you lived, and that instead 
of jw, aH our afEection had been laid 
away and, holding memory's lens, we saw 

£ 133 ] 



John Wheelwright 


friendship’s morphology in perfect law 

who reckoned when our friendship might be dead. 


Not only I were livelier had you lived 
work-mate to lay a morbid culture’s ghost; 
but you yourself embalmed, beatified 
in friendship’s reliquary, and I shrived 
in love’s confessional, where love is lost 
as our love would be lost, had you not died. 

John Wheelwright 

THE MATE 

This cowardly woman, afraid of a man, 

Any man, fled wild as a wood in a storm, 
fled over a tundra where nothing can 
Be vibrant with life and warm. 

She fled, and with her the terror went, 

Streamed dosely as hair on her head ; 

The terrible grasp, the passion spent, 

The lust of a body uncomforted. 

The dream, nothing human, more strong and male 
Than man who is fashioned of woman’s flesh, 
Pursued her through Danaic showers of hail, 

And broke her and brought her back on a leash. 

Keith Thomas 



POETRY : A Magazine of Verse 
GONE TO SUMMER 

To be a thing that grows in air 
Where wings of insects whirl and pass 

And know not whether I am there 
Or but a blowing in the grass ; 

Within the shadow of the hill 
To lie so still, as root or stone, 

That meadow mouse and daffodil 
Surprise no flicker but their own; 

So stone or green, so sifted slight, 

I might be drifted on my way, 

Unseen, as common to the sight; 

A spar upon the wave of day; 

A nearness like the night, so thinned 

No bird would think to turn a feather; 

And be, as lightly as the wind, 

An eye in the wide weather. 

Lloyd Frankenberg 


Cmi 



THE WEATHER OF THE DAWN 


SHADOW 

It was the shadow of the deer on the moon-hard slope 
that you saw: not death: but death was there 
with the breaking twig, in the dark; with the sounds that 
groped 

through the blind wood; with the step sourceless as air, 
and running. Though death was there 

it was not this you saw but a shadow — 
fox-fire glistened, perhaps, in the rotten log. 

But death was there in the cold blue-porcelain meadow; 

it flew with the bat, it crept with the fog, 

it was there in the brush, crouching behind the log. 

It was a shadow you saw, for death is the thing not seen, 
no never 

in sun or moon ; it is a faceless thing, it has no breath. 
Construe this how you will. Run, run forever 
from what you saw; but you saw- It was not death. 

THE SHAPE OF MOUNTAINS 

Let sleep the swallow on the wheel 
Of turning night, that moves to death ; 

She stands below who would not feel 
The burden of his breath — 

[ 135 ] 



POETRY : A Magazine of Verse 

Who would not have a source for slow 
Winds that arise and then are gone; 

Who knows the night, and would not know 
The weather of the dawn. 

Now moonlight shadows in the pines 
And eats like acid through the fern, 

And builds with blocks and spider lines 
A world she need not learn : 

Where she must stand with no escape 
And see her world coldly increased; 

And see the expense of night; the shape 
Of mountains on the east. 


WE WALK IN WATER 

This night has seen a thousand nights go down 
The closed drde of earth; this night lying 
Tangent to water has seen the dim moon drown 
Against its image. And now when moonlight dying 
Fades to a watery gray along the east. 

The spider walks uncertain on the snare 
That he has threaded, finding not the least 
Unharricaded passage anywhere. 

We walk in water all these early hours 
Uhcmain as Ae spider throu^ his tow% 

[ 136 ] 



Edward Webmiller 


Almost unsure of these strange, weighted flowers: 

Almost unknowing that always the night goes down 

Its closed arc, and that day must surely be heard 

On the last bough east, from the numbed throat of a bird. 

Edward Weismiller 


GARDENER 

Sifting and sowing myriad things 
Like sand, like nuggets, furred, with wings. 
His knobbed and loamy fingers hold 
The flowery destinies of mold. 

His light is from a lesser god 
Who guides the deft spade under sod, 
Slants his wit weatherward, to mind 
If rains hang near or moons be kind, 

And quickens in him blood that warms 
Toward glowing mass and spriggy forms. 
What boon in culling, for his creed, 

A more Olympian stuff from seed, 

Though universes, shelled in calm, 

Toss turbulently on his palm, 

And even creation must be mute 
Until he give it leave to root? 

Lori Petri 


[ 137 ] 



POETRY ; A Magazine of Verse 


STRANGE WORLD 

I think upon a time when men are happy 

and their strange words, strange thoughts, strange faces. 

They ask of me from their distant world : 

Why do you shed tears? 

What sad, tormented faces! 

And I reply: 

perhaps you will remember. 

We warred for bread and destroyed the crop in the 
wheatfield. 

We fed the hungry babe with the nipples of bombs. 

The word of peace was sweet on our tongues 
and we warred for it. 

We warred for love, and winning, won hatred. 

Wars of the sword, wars of the word, wars of the heart, 
the scars of war are deep and embitter our faces. 

Our world lies tom and bleeding. 

Remember us! 

We scattered armies and triumphed that you might live. 

They smile, they raise their eyebrows gently, 
they do not understand, and tihiey pity us 
with their strange, happy faces. 

5. Funaroff 


[ 138 ] 



TWO POEMS 


SIGEL XV 

So if you love me, 
love me everywhere, 
blind to all argument 
or phantasy 
claim the one signet ; 

truly in the sky 
God marked me to be his, 
scrawled on me “I, I, I 
alone can comprehend 

this subtlety: 
a song is very simple 
or is bound 

with inter-woven complicated sound; 

one undertakes 
the song’s integrity, 
another all the filiment 
wound round 

chord and discord, 

the quarter note and whole 


[ 139 ] 



POETRY : A Magazine of Verse 


run of iambic 
or of coryiam : 

no one can grasp, 

(God wrote) 

“nor understand 
the two, insolvent, 
only he and you;” 

shall we two witness 
that his writ is wise 
or shall we rise, 

wing-tip to purple wing, 
create new earth, 
new skies? 


FROM EPISODE 1 


Callypso 
O you clouds, 
here is my song; 
man is clumsy and evil 
a deviL 

O you sand, 
this is my command, 


1140] 



H.D. 


drown all men in slow breathless sufiEocation — 
then they may understand 

O you winds, 
beat his sails flat, 
shift a wave sideways 
that he suffocate. 

O you waves 
run counter to his oars, 
waft him to blistering shores, 
where he may die of thirst 

O you skies, 
send rain 

to wash salt from my eyes, 

and witness all earth and heaven, 
it was of my heart-blood 
his sails were woven; 

witness, river and sea and land; 
you, you must hear me — 
man is a devil, 
man will not understand. 

Odysseus (on the sea) 

She gave me fresh water in an earth jar, 
strange fruits 


[ 141 ] 



POETRY: A Magazine of Verse 


to quench thirst, 
a golden zither 
to work magic on the water; 

she gave me wine in a cup 
and white wine in a crystal shell; 
she gave me water and salt, 
wrapped in a palm leaf 
and palm-dates: 

she gave me wool and a pelt of fur, 
she gave me a pelt of silver-fox, 
and a brown soft skin of a bear, 

she gave me a comb for my hair, 
she washed brine and mud from my body, 
and cool hands 
held balm 

for a rust-wound on my ankle; 

she gave me water 
and fruit in a basket, 
and shallow 

baskets of pulse and grain, and a ball 
of hemp 

for mending the sail — 



H.D 


she gave me a willow basket 
for letting into the shallows 
for eels; 

she gave me peace in her cave» 

Callypso (from land) 

He has gone, 
he has forgotten ; 

he took my lute and my shell of crystal — 
he never looked back — 

Odysseus (on the sea) 

She gave me a wooden flute 

and a mantle, 

she wove me this wool — 

Callypso (from land) 
for man is a brute and a fooL 

H. D. 


[ 143 ] 



POETRY : A Magazine of Verse 


THE MUSE AND EDMUND WILSON 

E ver since Plato barred poets from his ideal republic 
the art of verse and its right to a place among man’s 
intellectual pursuits have been called into question. Each 
age has had its critic 'who attempted to show that poetry was 
without standing or value — ^an art grown obsolete, unedify- 
ing and unprofitable. The most recent critic to assail the art 
and to discourage its practice is Mr. Edmund Wilson, who 
at fairly regular intervals and to the accompaniment of a 
flashing of signs and rumbling of clouds in the literary 
heavens, steps forth from the sibyl’s cave to pronounce his 
awful doom. Mr. Wilson, as he himself reminds us, has 
been uttering this curse for some years now. Just when he 
experienced his first seizure I do not know, but he has had 
his sign out since at least 1934, at which time he predicted 
dire things for the Muse in an article. The Canons of 
Poetry, published in The Atlantic Monthly, More recently 
— ^particularly in reviews published in The New Republic — 
he has Reiterated his warnings. With each such utterance 
the dpuds grow blacker, the predictions more dire. The 
past few months have witnessed a lull in Mr. Wilson’s 
activities as a prophet but, apparently, no loss of confidence 
in his gifts; he has thought well enou^ of the articles and 
reviews containing these revelations to piece them together in 
an essay which is included in his latest book.^ I^t it not 

^Tke Triple Thktkers, by £<{mtuid Wilson. Harcourt, Brace. 

[ 144 ] 



The Muse and Edmund Wilson 


be thought from the title — Is Verse a Dying Technique ? — 
that Mr. Wilson has begun to harbor any doubts about 
the matter. His answer is, as always, a resounding Yes, 
According to him the death-rattle can be heard in nearly 
every line of present-day verse. Its beat is so faint, so un- 
steady, that it *'might almost as well be abandoned alto- 
gether/’ Mr. Wilson is not one to shun the facts. am 
not complaining about this state of affairs,” he continues, 
keeping a stiff upper lip. “I know that it is all on the 
cards.” 

Had he been content to make his prediction and then 
be done, Mr. Wilson might have succeeded in convincing 
us. Unfortunately he has not known when to let well 
enough alone. He has felt a need to back up his prophecy 
with a thesis about the relation of verse to prose, which 
has necessitated a definition of terms and a citation of 
specific examples. And it is here that he gives his hand 
away. 

What truth there is in his thesis is so evident and every- 
where recognized that we may cheerfully make him a present 
of it. It is undeniable, for example, “that the technique of 
verse was once commonly used for many purposes for which 
we now ordinarily use prose.” But to conclude from this, as 
Mr. Wilson does, that the techniques of verse and prose arc 
interchangeable is to draw a wholly unwarranted inference. 
Equally unwarranted is his contention that the modern 
novelist has taken over the functions formerly perfprmied 
by poets and is thus the real inheritor of the poetic tradition. 

[ 145 ] 



POETRY : A Magazine of Verse 


'‘One realizes/' he writes, ‘"that though Dante is greater 
than Flaubert, Flaubert is a writer of the same class." With 
that statement the flood gates are opened. Your definition 
of poetry is now sufiiciently elastic to let anything slip 
through, even Mr. Wilson's thesis. Indeed, it is on the 
kind of confusion expressed in the sentence just quoted that 
the thesis is based. “Is Flaubert any less intense and 
precise in his use of words and rhythms than Virgil?" he 
asks. “Put Virgil’s descriptions beside Flaubert’s : the angry 
bees of Virgil with the bees in Madame Bovary that hit 
against the window; Virgil’s old market gardener with 
Flaubert’s old farm servant at the fair. . ." The analogy 
is ingenious, but beyond revealing its author’s confusion, it 
proves little. To suggest that Flaubert is no less intense 
and precise in his use of words and rhythms than Virgil, is 
to say no more than that Flaubert was a master of his 
medium, as Virgil was of his. The difference is obviously 
one of kind, not degree. 

Both the novelist and the poet construct verbal objects. 
But tie novelist needs a much greater number of words to 
construct his object; these words, while they cx)mbine to 
form that object, are ultimately subordinate to it in the 
sense tiat the various characters, scenes or incidents which 
arc thereby created exist independently of their specific 
verbal context The words employed by the novelist can be 
ato?ed to a d®ree or other words substituted for them 
^hout destaooying the novel’s pattern osc dbaradsen This 
fe nptithe case with poetry. The object '^hich is a poem 



The Muse and Edmund Wilson 


is inseparable from the specific words and the specific order 
the poet has given the words. 

One or two illustrations will perhaps clarify and enforce 
my point. As regards poetry we have but to consider para- 
phrase and translation. To make a successful prose para- 
phrase of a poem is an impossibility. Translation is seldom 
more successful — ^witness the very few translations of any 
consequence. The best are those where the translator, 
almost always himself a talented poet, has not translated 
so much as created a new poem. A classic example is 
Chapman’s Homer, which remains an excellent English poem 
but is hardly a satisfactory translation of Homer* A novel, 
on the other hand, can be translated or transposed to another 
medium without losing its essential identity. Its donnee can 
be successfully incorporated even in a medium as different 
as the cinema. The original dialogue can be scrapped and 
the same results gained with new dialogue. But in filming 
Shakespeare the original speeches must be kept intact. No 
movie camera can reproduce the effects that Shakespeare got 
by using the technique of verse — ^and that is not only because 
Shakespeare is so great a poet. A lesser poet would present 
similar difficulties. As soon as the medium is altered, the 
poetry, being intextricably bound up with the medium, is 
destroyed. 

I have not discussed the particular passages from Virgil 
an4 J'laubert that Mr. Wilson dtes. In naaking any mix' 
comparison of a poet and a prose writer one must c^p^der 
the respective works in their entirety. It is critically 



POETRY ; d Magazine of Verse 


less to compare isolated passages or paragraphs of a poem 
and a novel. The few instances where prose approximates 
the effects of poetry — certain passages by Joyce are probably 
the best examples — cannot be said to be representative of 
the method employed in the novel as a whole. In verse, 
however, the method whereby such effects are created is 
employed consistently, is the governing principle of composi- 
tion. The governing principle of prose is of another kind 
altogether. This holds true despite the fact that there is 
always a certain amount of interchange between the two 
techniques. Prose writers have found ways of turning 
certain devices of verse to their own purposes, just as poets 
have adapted certain devices and phrasings of prose. In 
both instances the adaptation is the important factor. 

These facts would seem to leave little basis for Mr. 
Wilson’s assertion that verse and prose are “simply two 
different techniques of literary expression” — or, to give 
“simply” the value it has in this context, that they are differ- 
ent techniques for saying the same things. What Mr. Wilson 
is doing here is setting up the old dichotomy, long since 
discredited, between form and content. This, from some- 
om as familiar with Marxist thought as Edmund Wilson 
professes to be/ is somewhat startling, for it represents an 
out-and-out rejection of Marx’s basic concept of dialectical 


Mr. WiWs article on Marxism 
^ * thorough misunder- 

that to call its author a ‘‘Marxist'' w to 
r<pp«E the tonn meaningless. 


£ 148 ] 



The Muse and Edmund Wilson 


interaction. Yet what better reveals the interaction of 
thought and matter than poetry, which constantly combines 
and integrates elements commonly thought of as opposites, 
therein bodying forth their hidden relationships and giving 
them a habitation and a name? Poetry, in fact, is a kind 
of dialectical shorthand and its essence is metaphor, “the 
swift perception of relations/* Its form springs from and 
is integral to its vision. This intimate relation of form 
and vision Mr. Wilson does not acknowledge. Hence his 
mistaken conviction that the two techniques are merely 
literary conventions, his belief that the epic poets of the 
past and certain modern novelists are writers of the same 
dass, and his groundless generalization concerning the victory 
of prose over verse as a mode of literary expression. Prose 
may quite possibly be ousting verse from the scene, but if so 
it is not because it can adiieve the same ends as verse, can, 
in other words, be poetry. 

Flimsy as Mr. Wilson's thesis turns out to be upon exami- 
nation, it is further undermined by the unfortunate examples 
he cites to bear it out. To confuse the aims, functions and 
methods of verse and prose is bad enough, but it is little short 
of ludicrous to offer as “the most striking confirmation of the 
obsolescence of verse technique” — Maxwell Anderson, Mr. 
Wilson admits that Anderson's verse is bad but tells us it is 
bad because Anderson has chosen a medium that is moribund 
and obsolete. Now I should have thou^t nolhing could be 
plainer than that Anderson and not the technique Pf vers^ is 
at fault. Surely it is obvious that Anderson concdcfcs his 

[ 149 ] 



POETRY : A Magazine of Verse 


material as a prose writer, not a poet, does. In attempting to 
express that conception in verse he is simply using a technique 
unsuited to his purposes and the result is what we should ex- 
pect it to be. Reasons of space forbid a discussion of each of 
Mr, Wilson’s other examples. We may wonder, though, at 
the eclecticism which lumps Yeats, Eliot and Auden together 
with John Masefield, Ogden Nash and F.P.A. What the 
first group has in common with the second, especially in the 
matter of verse technique, since that is the ground on which 
they are brought together, is as hard to understand as what 
led the author of Axets Castle to proclaim Edna Millay **one 
of the sole surviving masters of English verse.” While agree- 
ing that to be one of the one and only, no matter what, is at 
least to triumph over logic and grammar, we may ask how 
anj^ne whose chief objection to verse as a technique is that it 
no longer bears any relation to modern life, can possibly think 
that Miss Millay was ever a master? What could be more 
removed from the realities, tempo and language of our time 
tljan Miss Millay’s ‘‘old imperial line,” the passing of which 
Mr. Wilson so deeply regrets? Is it not his preference for 
this “old imperial line” which causes him unconsciously to 
identity its obsolescence with that of verse technique in gen- 
ial? 

Actfually, of course, the technique of verse is far from 
i^bsolm»t. Nor are its tempo and idiom removed from those 
of (^tsqmporary Hfe. Mr. Wilson, in maintaining the conr 
constapdy contradicts himseli First he objects to 
I^iesent^ay verse technique because he say$ its? languagje and 

[ 150 ] 



The Muse and Edmund Wilson 


rhythms bear no relation to modem life. Then when he finds 
poets (Eliot, Auden, MacNeice, et al.) whose language and 
rhythms belie his objections, he reproaches them for having 
abandoned the *^old imperial line,” To complete the con- 
fusion, he advocates a return to a kind of poetic diction that 
was already dead in our grandfathers’ day — the kind of poetic 
diction employed by Elizabeth Barrett Browning, William 
Morris, and James Russell Lowell. It was Gerard Manley 
Hopkins who first exposed its defects in his letter to Canon 
Dixon, dated 1 Dec. 1881. ^‘To waive every other objection,” 
he wrote, ‘‘it is essentially archaic, biblical a good deal, and 
so on: now that is a thing that can never last; a perfect style 
must be of its age.” The decline of this convention is traced 
in detail in this letter; we need not rehearse the facts here; 
Mr. Wilson can turn to Hopkins’ letter. The tradition of 
poetic diction which Hopkins himself did so much to revive 
and reinvigorate is the one into which the significant verse of 
our own time fits. Its chief characteristics are precision of 
phrase, an extension of the functions and subject matter of 
verse to include images from contemporary life and the 
rhythms of everyday speech, as opposed to the vagueness and 
otherworldliness of the late-romantic diction and imagery. 
Not only Eliot, Pound, Williams, Miss Moore, and Audwj, 
but Hardy, Lawrence, Yeats, and Wilfrid Owen belong to 
this living tradition. ^ Is Mr. Wilson prepared to assert that 
this tradition exemplifies the “obsolescence of verse technique” ? 

Any generalization concerning the nature or qtualily of 
literary production during a ^ven period must be ba^ on the 

n5i] 



POETRY: A Magazine of Verse 

best work of that period, not on its second or third-rate efforts. 
But even then you will not uncover anything very illuminat- 
ing if you isolate rfie way of saying from the thing said, if 
you reduce a poem or novel to a matter of technique, which 
is what Mr, Wilson has done. Such an approach is unprofit- 
able because shallow and one-sided, and it is likely to result 
in a confused and fallacious view of the functions of both 
verse and prose. If the achievements and limitations of mod- 
ern verse arc to be intelligently evaluated and an examination 
made of poetry’s present status as compared with that of prose, 
a less superficial approach to the subject will have to be made. 
Mr. Wilson might have considered, for example, why it is 
that, despite their technical perfection and virtuosity, our 
poets for the most part lack the scope, the depth of insight and 
inevitalnlity of image and phrase which the great poets of the 
past commanded. Consideration of this and similar questions 
would have been a fertile and valuable work. Mr. Wilson, 
instead, has spent bis time trying to prove a thesis which both 
the examples he cites and the nlore representative ones that 
he ignores, refute. For critical inquiry and judgment he has 
substituted the easier labprs of irtesponsiblc prophecy. 

T. C. Wihon 


£ 152 ] 



REVIEWS 


MEANING AND BEING 

Land of the Free, by Archibald MacLeish. Harcourt, Brace. 

A LITTLE more than ten years ago, Mr. MacLeish 
was writing a brief Ars Poetica which concluded: 

A poem should not mean 
But be 

Later he addressed an Invocation to the Social Muse, who 
seems to be of Russian origin, observing: 

I remind you Barinya the life of the poet is hard— 

A hardy life with a boot quick as a fiver: 

Is it just to demand of us also to bear arms? 

But times change, and we with time, and the artist who in- 
sisted on the intrinsic value of his art and on his need for 
privacy in which to perfect it, was diverted by the noises of 
a panic-stricken crowd below him. He began to hear, louder 
than the silence in which he watched a moving shadow, 
louder than the sword cracking the shell of a cockatrice, 
louder than the jays in the apple-trees, the damorous voice 
of the dty. He felt the desire not merely to communicate 
experience, but to secure the response of a more comprehensive 
audience. The quondam pupil of Pound, the seeker after the 
exact word and the precise cadence, came to share Masefield's 
feeling that “the art, which appeals only to a limited section 
of the world, can be but a limited and faulty art." Mr. Mac- 
Ldsh does not employ the fadle vulgar style that has a wide 


[ 153 ] 



POETRY : A Magazine of Verse 


popular appeal, but he is obviously making an effort, how- 
ever awkwardly, at public speaking. And, as though he were 
conscious of the crowd^s scorn of the poet, eager to justify 
himself, and ready to humble himself utterly in order to be 
heard at all, in his latest volume he has contented himself 
with verse that is no more than a running commentary on a 
series of photographs, which speak quite eloquently for them- 
selves. 

Land of the Free is primarily a picture-book. It consists of 
nearly ninety photographs, most of them taken for the Farm 
Security Administration, together with some others snapped 
for such organizations as the National Child Labor Com- 
mittee, the U. S. Forest Service, the Soil Conservation Ser- 
vice, the TVA, and various picture magazines. Dorothea 
Lange is the photographer whose work is represented most 
amply, but she shares the honors with fifteen other photogra- 
phers whose aim has been to present a pictorial document of 
American life under the stress of drought and flood — a study 
of men, women, and children, driven, hemmed in, and beaten 
down by the greed of the great industrialists and plantation 
owners, the powerful exploiters of land and labor. Share- 
croppers, dispossessed homesteaders, flood refugees, lumber- 
men, cotton pickers, cannery workers, lean men with sUn- 
wrinkled eyes, toflwom women borne down by babies, child 
lab^cfs with drawn empty faces, these are shown against the 
ha^i^ound of a land wasted by erosion, exhausted acreage 
farmed fc^ profit rather than for use, bleaMy garish Main 
Streets, roads fenced with barbed wire, abandoned towns, 

Its*} 



Meaning and Being 


jnills, that like the cemeteries in their backyards, are dedicated 
to death. The pictures are not monotonous, partly because 
portraits alternate with landscapes, and partly because they 
are so arranged as to suggest a not unhopeful epic. The first 
picture is of Arkansas sharecroppers; die tenth shows police 
driving strikers from the Republic Steel Co. plant in South 
Chicago last May; the eleventh, a union organizer being 
beaten up at the gates of the Ford Motor Co.; the fiftieth, 
a farm boy in an Oklahoma dust-storm; the eighty-fifth, a 
May Day demonstration in Philadelphia; the eighty-sixth, 
labor leaders addressing textile workers in North Carolina; 
the eighty-seventh, the celebration of the end of a steel strike 
in Pennsylvania; and the last a Dust Bowl farmer who has 
migrated to California in the hope of a new start. The impli- 
cation is clear, even without the titles, which are given in an 
index at the back of the book, and certainly without Mr. 
MacLeish’s verse commentary, which begins: “We don’t 
know,’’ goes on to wonder about “the great American dream,” 
to ask 

if there’s liberty a man can mean that’s 
Men : not land 

and concludes: 

We wonder 
We dwi’t know 
We’re asking 

The photographs contribute enormously to the text. T^c 
text does not illuminate, does not, as the poet sought to haye 
it do, “illustrate” the photo^aphs. It is the pccuHarhy of 

[ 155 ] 



'Natural History 


familiar grammar but by a succession of images. More re- 
cently it has occurred to some poets that contemporary effect 
may be gained by parsimony in the use of finite verbs. Mr. 
Gregory, for instance, has overworked this ‘‘cinematic” effect 
so heavy with unsinewed participles and substantives, and so 
passive in quality, Holden has wisely clung to the tonic of a 
common syntax, having a talent for making it do heavy work, 
and having an active mood that much of the more revolution- 
ary poetry needs badly. The concentration that results nets 
a simplicity that often pays him well for the trouble. Its 
danger is that it predisposes him toward an imagery and a 
subject matter that sometimes makes his simplicity less valid 
than it seems on first reading. 

Holden is a later New Englander, interested in himself, 
in the loyalty of a few other people to common and rigorous 
values, and in a nature from which he feels an ancient sepa- 
ration and can only meet with stoicism. He is one of the 
genuine New Englanders, speaking in the true tone. Yet it is 
unfortunate that in some of the poems the warm and simple 
pictures by which he acknowledges a more sensual heart than 
Frost’s or Robinson’s, seem doubtful. It is a double mis- 
fortune in Holden’s case that his feeling is blurred sometimes 
by an effect too pretentiously stark. 

Yet part of the time Holden is not truly simple, but only 
reaching for it and only attaming the mannerism. This fail- 
ure is felt, for example, in When Linden Baughs Are Bare, 
where a resolution is distributed through images that are 
associated but hardly inevitable. It is more transparent in 

[ 157 ] 



POETRY: A Magazine of Verse 


Rabbit and Hawkj where excessive care is taken to form a 
not very pointed question and to compact an unexciting 
answer. Speaking of a society that is going to the dogs, he 
says: 


We too break down the small 
And are broken by the high. 

Rabbit and hawk in one, 

We scatter and we fly. 

What man would have it changed — 

None furious, none oppressed ; 

The hawks breast giving down 
To line the rabbit’s nest? 

The courage and the stoicism are admirable, as are their 
statement. But it is clear that few ‘‘thinking*^ men ponder 
changes which would make the world free of all the furious 
and all the oppressed. Some are born masters and some 
slaves^ yet there are desirable changes in our society which 
these men do think about and do demand. Holden^s stanaas 
suggest that their cogitations have been examined and found 
s^timeutal. Actually, no very dear view has been taken at 
alh l£ a SQciety^s change can be sung, then a real question 
wmt b® and a really pressing solution, no naatter how 
piqrsonal it is, must be made. Holden, in a fetalism that 
seemfs to miss the real dem^d of the times, seems to post- 
ajl collective effort as useless. - » 

TfatS has been mentioned, but Holdai has a ca|)acity of 
Iwiowm ior the reduced image and shnple construction. The^ 
Knes^ of Qn Taming Over a Stone are sufficient ^proof. 

[1551 



Natural History 


We turn no stones today 
Unless they bar our way. 

Now, like the worm, the eye, 

Accustomed to its lie, 

Swears to the cheated brain 
That other worlds are pain 
And this alone complete, 

Sweet or not sweet 

Geese in the Running Water and Cold Night are equally 
successful in their concord of thought and sound. The sonnets 
are best where they are most metaphysical; yet in spite of 
their impersonal manner, they remain rather private. They 
are least successful when Holden’s simplicity muddies into 
the banal or the clumsy: 

When all is said and done, it comes to this : 

One quickening difference alone divides 
The living from the dead, the flesh of brides 
From the like-postured b(^ies that stones kiss 

His fondness for the short line is hard to explain, too, for 
most of his best poems use a longer one, muted, subtle, and 
restrained. 

Holden possesses an integrity and reason which the socio- 
logical poets, among others, need very much. It is a rank 
error that he is not more widely recognized than he is, 
especially when there is such a serious celebration of poets 
who fake the sense and sensibility whidi he truly possesses. 

R£uel Detmey 


[ 159 ] 



POETRY : A Magazine of Verse 


ALDINGTON 1938 

The Crystal World, by Richard Aldington. Doubleday, 

Doran & Co. 

In our time, when major poets are rare, almost extinct, 
competition for place in the first line of minor poets is so 
keen that several very worthy figures, through unhappy cir- 
cumstances, are buried deep in the ranks — among them, Rich- 
ard Aldington. 

His prime misfortune was his association with Imagism, or 
rather our association of him with Imagism. The movement 
was temporarily beneficial to him, and he casually forsook it 
when it ceased being so. Yet when Imagism slipped its moor- 
ings and drifted far from popular favor, most of us overlooked 
that he wasn’t still aboard. His being linked with the British 
war poets also reacted against him. As their vogue passed, we 
stopped reading his flashing Images of War, though it re- 
mains, fn company with Wilfred Owen’s and Herbert Read’s 
work, the most powerful verse occasioned by the war. 

The middle ’twenties found him at the crest of his career, 
yet winriing Ettle of the praise he deserved. Exile and A Fool 
f ike F oresi did not obey the Eliotic canon which decreed that 
poetic motion be de-personalized. In 1928, and again in 
1934, he pubMed collected editions of his poems, which 
stirred i3ie critics to sum up his deficiencies. Mostly he was 
damned for lading the tedmical finish of Eliot. It was as- 
that he was without ^‘either the genius or the arduous 
wai for persistjemt execution.” No one honored his apparent 



Aldington 193S 


conviction that formal control is less essential to poetry than 
the spurt and flare of imagination. Note his remarks on a 
fellow-poet who believed the^same thing: “Lawrence is a 
great literary artist. By this I don’t mean that he was a 
painful planner and polisher — an artist in the sense that 
Flaubert and Pope were artists. I mean that he was greatly 
gifted as an artist, if only because he possessed a most delicate 
and passionate sensibility. His art was an art of spontaneity, 
fresh quick-flowing creativeness,” Aldington needs to be 
judged along with such impulsive poets as Lawrence, Emer- 
son, and Shelley, whose success is intermittent, but who can 
be read with as much pleasure as the more disciplined, 
uniform poets. 

Nearly as common is the charge that Aldington has relied 
on too few themes and rehearsed them too ploddingly. True 
enough, he has dealt almost exclusively with the radiance of 
immediate love and of love in the memory, with the hideous- 
ness of immediate battle and of battle in the memory, and 
with the suppression suffered by imagination at the hands of 
materialistic civilization. But at least he has searched them 
deeply, sometimes in unforgettable language; furthermore, 
his approach to them and his tone have been remarkably 
varied. 

Regrettably, my contention that Aldington is a better poet 
than his current reputation would indicate must be flanked 
by the admission that he is a better poet than his newest volume 
would indicate. The Crysted World is a lyric-sequence about 
a man and a woman and the near-destruction of the happiness 

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POETRY : A Magazine of Verse 


they find together. It is distinguished from similar sequences, 
like Meredith’s Modern Love, Lawrence’s Look! We Have 
Gome Through!, and MacLeish’s The Woman on the Stair, 
in that the menace does not issue from the lovers’ own 
temperaments, and is not even defined as the poem progresses. 
Indeed, a more self-sufilcient and apparently indestructible 
union has never been pictured, even in poetry, and the rest 
of the world is invited to go hang itself in traditional 
Donnesque manner; 

O world of strange and violent men, 

Let us have our world I 

It is a world which has no battlefield, 

No factions and no bitter strife for power, 

And scarcely touches yours. 

But unexpectedly and inexplicably the lover is singing 
passionate regrets at his mistress’s departure. Then, just as 
inexplicably, she is restored to him, and his ecstasy comes 
back to life, though somewhat mellower and more reasoning 
than before. 

That is all. An episode as old as poetry itself. Intensely 
Phonal lyrics, which do not seem personal because of their 
utter commonplaceness. Whatever point or novelty the 
series of lyrics may possess is provided by a long, prosaic re- 
telling of the stoiy in an epilogue. Wrapped up in numerous 
random rejections on life and art, the secret of the lovers’ 
sq^ration mi reunion is quizzically related by the author, 
jh pqrposeful flatness; 

imi 



Aldington ipjS 


You have here two passionate natures 
Unable to compromise 

Under the snug winking of the hypocrite world. 

They must have everything, 

Must share each day and night, 

Must grow together closer, closer, 

And build their ‘crystal world.* 

But there are obstacles, there always are 
(No need to quote from Shakespeare.) 

Never mind what obstacles, but say* 

‘The Bishops and the Bench would not approve, 

Nor would the T.U.C., nor Mrs. Grundy, 

Nor Mr. Grundy putting on the green.* 

So, since the world’s whispers and butting in cannot be barred, 
they determine to part. But she can endure the separation no 
better than he, and sends him a Western Union cable to re- 
join her. The moral, as every reader must now know, is 
that a crystal world is never simply given — 
you must make it 

Only from the purity of extreme passion, 

And, alas, the purity of extreme pain, 

Can you build the crystal world. 

The whole performance is as naively conceived and ex- 
pressed as this condensation suggests. The lyrics give us 
emotion unrefined, untransfused. In the past. Aldington has 
from time to time shown a bent for cloying lushness, but has 
checked himself; as Yeats said in another connection, a mile 
further and all had been marsh. But now he rides desperately 
throu^ die quagmire, spreading clichfe before him to make 
the path look soUder., The occasional stretches’ of firm gmtmd, 
with a flowering beauty reminiscent of his best piecest 
Exile and Images of Desire, are unaMe to compensate for the 

[ 163 ] 



POETRY : A Magazine of Verse 


rest. The dry, expansive poetic essay at the end is ineffective 
by itself. Could it have been broken up and intermixed with 
the lyrics — one offsetting the other as in Don Juan or A Fool 
i the Forest — something somewhat better than what we have 
might have resulted. 

Whether any of the failure of Aldington's new poem can 
be blamed on his increasing preoccupation with novels and 
sketches and articles, one cannot say. He has spoken of 
Lawrence’s suffering “from the usual fate of polygraphs — 
people are too lazy-minded to include a large varied mass of 
creative writing." Yet half the fault may be the polygraph's, 
if his simultaneous harvest of several fields is so rapid that 
none is thoroughly gleaned. Certainly Aldington's last novel, 
Very Heaven^ and his last essays, Artifex^ also betray a lack 
of concentration and of self-criticism, which subtracts a good 
deal from their potential excellence. 

Kerker Quinn 


A NOTABLE VERSE PLAY 

Robin Landings by Stanley Young. Farrar & Rinehart. 

If the functicMi of verse in play writing is to effect a 
ht^g^tened coordination between mood and action, to intensify 
through sensory image and well-defined 
metric stress, the choice of medium for Robin Landing is 
j.UiStifia(L The play's setting is of unusual intaees.t: an 
4#temthK3entnrJr trading-post in the Kentucky wilderness. 
G^rant Eaibon has fled Massachusetts to make a ndw life for 



A Notable Verse Play 


^iimself, following the treachery of his brother Kane and the 
unfaithfulness of his young wife Linda. But they arrive at 
Robin Landing eighteen years later to claim Grant's land, 
believing him dead. Grant’s bitter desire for revenge leads 
only to tragedy: first for David, his sixteen-year-old half- 
breed son; then for himself, when Kane once more outwits 
him. The hand of retribution strikes Kane down, however; 
and Grant and Linda are finally reunited. 

That necessary ingredient of dramatic tragedy — emotional 
tension in the conflict between two strongly matched char- 
acters — ^is implicit in the theme and skillfully set up in Act 
One. But the tension breaks too soon ; some of the scenes fail 
in realistic conviction; the few humorous touches in the play 
are clumsily handled; and an over-stressed foreshadowing of 
events, like that of the coming fate of Kane, lessen sustained 
interest. 

Because Mr. Young commendably avoids the orthodox 
formality of blank verse, his free and subtly varied form is 
unusually well adapted to character and action. Conventional 
blank verse is an illogical choice in that it does not fit the 
pace of contemporary life, nor match the rhythm and texture 
of modem speech. Mr. Young’s work has a strongly marked 
rh3^thmical beat that admirably catches the accent of American » 
frontier speech. The diction is rou^, exact, indigienously 
flavored. In many places — as in the scene between Linda 
and David — ^the dialogue has an imp^ioned lyric beauty. 
It seems to me a technical weakness, however, that the ciiat- 
acter I^ban, an idiot frontier waif, i$ made to carry wpst of 

[ 165 ] 



POETRY : A Magazine of Verse 

the lyric burden. His song as the opening of the play, with 
its refrain 

0 where wiil I go? 

O where come to rest 
With this bird in my heart 
With this wind in my breast 

is poignantly efEective. But few modern dramatists are suc- 
cessful in following the Shakespearean pattern of introducing 
some simple-minded ‘‘child of nature^^ as either comic or 
lyric relief. Maxwell Anderson's signal failure in such at- 
tempts comes to mind. Since Laban, however, plays a major 
role essential to the play's action, his function as a lyric instru- 
ment is ^ven more credence. In both lyric and dramatic 
passages, Mr. Young’s writing is on the whole flexible and 
fadle, vigorous but not ornate, and — ^notably enough — ^al- 
ways distinguishable as verse, 

Ruth Lechlitner 


NEWS NOTES 

A$ this issue goes to press we are glad to learn that the Pulitzer 
Pnze for poetry hap been awarded to Marya Zaturenska (Mrs. HoraK^ 
Gregory)^ of Bromcvill^ N, Y., in recognition of her latest bodk, 
CM Mofftmg Sky. This award is a well-deserved honor to a poet 
who has been doing consist^tly fine work since her first appearance 
in PoaTRT in i920. The prize-winning volume was reviewed in our 
F^maiy issue by Marshall Schacht, who said: “Her criterion oi 
whatt to dse has been ^pure poetry. ... She series the mellifluous line 
whh restrained and achieves her poetic release wi<h strlkhig successd 
9 (p 9 (^>ua always of what she is doing, knowing it is dangerous and 
ttofadhionable and temporary. From the squawk of cities and the 
gsawing of the modern mind, rite escapes to asylum and takes the 



News NQies 


veil.” In a year which saw the publication of outstanding books by 
such non-Pulitzer poets as Wallace Stevens,^ Allen Tate, Louise 
Bogan, Robinson Jeffers, and others, one can imagine the difficulty 
of choice; it is thus particularly fortunate that there happened to be 
a book of real merit on which the judges could agree. 

Miss Zaturenska was born in Moscow in 1901 and brought to this 
country at the age of ten. At fourteen, after a few years in grammar 
school, she began work in a factory. Her introduction to modern 
poetry was through a copy of the Monroc-Henderson anthology, 
which she read in a public library. She has received two awards 
from Poetry: the John Reed Memorial Prize in 1924, and the 
Guarantors Prize in 1936. 

Throu^ the prolonged efforts of Tessa Swcazy Webb, a bill has 
recently been enacted in the Ohio legislature setting apart the third 
Friday in each October as Ohio Poetry Day, to honor and ^ye 
recognition to poets of the state, and to be the occasion for special 
study of poetry in the public schools. Taking her text from the 
Whitman quotation on our inside cover, Mrs. Webb writes: ‘*How 
arc we to create these ‘great audiences’? In the first place we know 
that the audience must be interested in the thing put before it Here 
in my own state I thought of one way that might eventually become 
effectual in creating deeper appreciation of poetry and thereby greater 
audiences: securing legislation that requires special observance of 
poetry in the public schools on a day when the state officially honors 
its poets. I believe Ohio is the first and only state that has sudh 
legislation.” We heartily congratulate Ohio and Mrs. Webb. 

The following protest has been sent to us by William FitzGerald, 
of Boston, from whose article in The Examiner we quoted 
briefly in our April issue; “The magazine is not, as you stated, 
‘f ascisP propaganda ; what it sets out to achieve, successfully I think, 
is a sounder evaluation of present-day ideologies. . . . Democracy 
must rid itself of a nostalgia conducive to its fatal disintegration by 
greedy and self-seeking political factions; it must make up for lost 
time, for the irresponsibility of decades, if it is to survive the 
encroachments of absoMst doctrines — if, that is, it is to retain any 
semblance of identification with the social principles formulated by 
Jefferson. In this task of rejuvenating its resources it can expect no 
real aid from the Left, since Democracy’s death strug^e is Cbm- 
munism’s bid for power. . . . The Examiner , to my knowlec^ 
advocates no sei^re of power by storm troopers and assodated riff- 
raff ; it confines itself to critical explosion of the Marxist myth.*’^ We 

[ 167 ] 



POETRY t A Magazine of Verse 


are glad to print this statement from a gifted young writer and con- 
tributor to PoETRf; however, we find it hard to understand Mr. Fitz- 
Oerald^s objection to our remarks about The Mxaminer* We find it 
especially hard in view of the second issue of that quarterly, which 
is a long and undisguised paean to the fascist ideal. 

A determined search of this year’s long list of Guggenheim 
Fellowships reveals three appointments for creative writing in poetry: 
to Rolfe Humphries and Oscar Brynes, of New York, and to C. F. 
MacIntyre, of Los Angeles. Mr. Humphries is well known to our 
readers, his last two appearances having been in November and 
March. Reviewing And Spain Sings in the April issue, Theodore 
Roethke called Humphries “one of the best but least recognized of 
contemporary poets.” Mr. Br3mes first appeared in Poetry three years 
ago. His recent book-length narrative poem, The Day*s Work, will 
be reviewed next month by S. Funaroff. Mjr. MacIntyre, whose 
group in the February issue aroused much interest, is the author of 
a remarkable first volume, Poems, published by Macmillan in 1936. 

The Phoenix, a new quarterly edited by J. P. Cooney and dedi- 
cated to the memory of D. H. Lawrence; has arisen at Woodstock, 
N. y. “to form a covenant between all men and women, now far 
scattered and isolated from one another, who are seeking to roll away 
the stone from the tomb of modern society.” The first issue features 
an essay by Lawrence, entitled Pan in America, whid^ contains 
passages worthy of the author’s genius. The other contributors, 
lihough lading Lawrence’s poetic gift, do their best to live up to the 
advance notices, which promise “intimations of and dues to a rena- 
joyous deiiveranoe from the bli^t of Christianity and Christi- 
anifys mairderous progeny— Fascism, Marxian Communism, and 
Democracy.” We like the thoroughgoing spirit of this, though when 
ajil the above axe disposed of there will apparently be notiwng left 
majt the works of D. H. Lawrence, “the phallos and the womb.” 
Thpse, however, may be snffident, for it is proposed that the disdples 
*^go together to some remote, fruitful places to whatever haven on 
earth the life spirit leads ua to.” Meanwhile, to collectors of special 
maga4n?s^ we can recommend The Phoenix aa one of the mQS|t 
ufusnah 

To fTpOps in ^oola apd colleges who would like to print a poetry 
magazme at minimum expense, we urge the sjcnaible plan adopted by 
Vkgimai Verse, a dearly mime<^aphed booklet of sixteen pages, 
e^ted % Qfeipd Walsh and Robert F. Bchenkkan at the Un^^^sftEy 
m Yirgmia. Walsh writes: “A magazioe like this can be 



Notes on Contributors 


published at very little cost We borrow the use of a mimeograph, 
and type the stencils ourselves. Much more interest has been attracted 
than we anticipated. The university paper has run long stories about 
it, and several announcements have been made over the local radio 
station. We have a paid subscription list of 130, which is suflBcient, 
at 2Sc for the five issues this session, to pay all expenses. In addition, 
we have placed self-serving stands in several stores so that people can 
buy individual copies at 10c each. Despite the poor appearance of 
the magazine from the standpoint of printing, it does furnish a place 
where students interested in poetry can see their work published. It is 
a kind of clearing house, where each student can see what his friends 
are doing. I believe the development of American poetry depends 
on lots of people writing poetry.” 

We have the honor to announce that our July verse section will be 
devoted to the work of poets employed on the Federal Writers* 
Project throughout America. This special number, which has been 
made possible through the generous co-operation of Willard Maas, 
will offer a striking variety of style and subject-matter. Several 
interesting newcomers will be represented, in addition to poets al- 
ready familiar. Their work will be |rouped in one issue as a tribute 
to the extremely high level of creative talent being fostered by the 
Writers* Project 

Because of the increasing quantity of manuscript, Jessica North no 
longer finds it possible to shoulder the full duties of associate editor. 
She has asked to be relieved of some of the work, in order to devote 
more time to her novel writing. Peter DeVries who has been acting 
as first reader since April, has kindly wnsented to remain, and now 
joins Ae staff permanently as an assodate editor. Mr. DeVrfcs is a 
young Chicago writer who has contributed poems and fiction to 
Esqi^e, Story, etc. He appeared for the first time in Poetry last 
January. 

NOTES ON CONTRIBUTORS 

H. B. LEWIS is an American farmhand poet whose work, still gdl* 
erally unknown in his own country, has been translated intn Russ!ia% 
French^ Japanese, Chinese, and Esperanto. He is to antixojr of 
pamphlets, all now exhausted; Red Renaissance, 19$<i tTkmkmg> of 
Russia, 1932; Salojodon, 1934; Road to Utterly, 1935* Thm we re- 
viewed in our issue of January 1936 by Wtiliam Carios W9liaia% 
who said of Lewis: “He has the one ^at strength mtout *whS^ 
there can be no art at all— belief, a btoP in his own songs, in €Wr 

[ 169 ] 



POETRY : A Magazine of Verse 


absolute value, the power of their words to penetrate to the very bones 
of his listeners.” The ceremonial destruction of Lewis’ second pam- 
phlet figured in the ‘^Hearst riots” at San Frandsco in 1934. 

H. D., now resident in Switzerland, requires no introduction to our 
readers. She has been a frequent contributor since the first year of 
the magazine, and was one of the founders of Imagism. Her latest 
book is the translation of the Ion of Euripides, reviewed in our 
December issue by Richmond Lattimore. Harriet Monroe said of this 
poet that, with Pound, Flint, and the others, she “shook the Victorian 
tradition and discarded its excesses.” 

"JOHN WHEELWRIGHT," Malcolm Cowley has written, “is not a 
popular or easy poet, but he is . . . one of the very few whose poems 
demand and reward a second and third reading.” ^e two poems 
in this issue will form part of a novel in sonnets, Mirrors of Venus, 
to be published in the autumn by Bruce Humphries. Mr. Wheel- 
wright lives in Boston. 

EDITH FRANKLIN WYATT, the distinguished Chicago writer, has been 
a contributor to Poetry since its be^nning, and served for many 
years on our Advisory Committee. She is the author of several 
novels and volumes of essays, and of a book of poems, The Wind in 
the Corn, published by D. Appleton & Co. 

LINCOLN nTZELL, the redpicnt of this year’s Shelley Memorial 
Award, was bom in San Francisco in 1903 and educated at the 
Universitjr of California and at Harvard. After several years’ 
residence in Europe and the east, he now lives in Berkeley, Calif. 
His work has appeared in The New Republic, The American Car» 
asms, and other periodical^ including Poetry. 

STEPHEN STBPANCHEV was bom in Jugoslavia in 1915 and brought to 
Am^ica as a child. He is at present doing graduate work at the Uiu- 
versity of Chicago, where he has been active in the recent vigorous 
revival of the campus Poetry Club, He is in demand as a lecturer 
on modem poetry, and in 1937 received our Midland Authors Prize. 

EDWARD wiiSMlLLER, who has lately received a Rhodes Scholarship, 
mm bom in a Wisconsin Swiss Colony in 1915 and is now finishing 
his studies at Cornell College (Mt Vernon, Iowa). Hia first book 
of poems, The Beer Come Down, was published in 1936 by the Yale 
tTnivejfrity Press. 

s, FUNAR0PP, of NelY York, is a well known contributor to Poetry 
and other magazine^ and was editor of the Dynamo Poets’ Series. 
His first book of poems, The Spider and the CheJt, has just been 
issiped by InteinathHial Publishers. 



Notes on Contributors 


MARIE DcL. WELCH, of San Francisco, was introduced to our readers 
in 1927. She is the^ author of Poems, published in 1933 by MacMillan. 

The following, in addition to Mr. Lewis, make their first appear- 
ance here: 

E. L. MAYO was born in Dorchester, Mass, in 1904, went to Bates 
College in Maine, and after writing “the un-great, un-American 
novel” worked as a wine steward in a hotel in the Bahamas. In 1936 
he received his M.A. at the University of Minnesota, where he edited 
the Minnesota Quarterly, and is now an English instructor in the 
North Dakota State College at Fargo. He has contributed to 
American Prefaces and other magazines, but has not yet published 
a book. 

WALTER HENDRICKS was bom in Chicago and educated at Amherst, 
where he studied under Robert Frost and Stark Young. During the 
war he served as an aviator. For some years he has headed the 
English Department at the Armour Institute of Technology (Chi- 
cago), and has published several books of poems, the most recent 
being Double Dealer, 

LLop FRANKENBERG was bom in 1907 in Mt. Vernon, N. Y., and 
has lived mostly in New York City. As an undergraduate at 
Columbia, he edited Morningside, His work has appeared in The 
Forum, The London Mercury, and elsewhere. 

KEITH THOMAS was bom in Kansas, educated at Nebraska Univer- 
sity, and now lives in the lower Rio Grande Valley at Miswon, 
Texas. His poems have appeared in a number of magazines^ includ- 
ing The Southwest Review, The Saturday Evening Post, The North 
American Review, etc, 

LORI PETRI, bom in Dallas, Texas, is a Californian by adoption, 
now reddent in San Rafael. She has contributed to various 
magazines and is the author of a book of poems. Fools or Gods, 

This month’s prose writers are all familiar. T. c. wiLSON, one of 
the outstanding younger critics, is American correspondent for Life 
and Letters Today, babette deutsch is the author of tibe noted 
critical study, This Modern Poetry, as well as of several novels and 
other books of verse and criticism. liuEL denney, whose group of 
poems in our December issue attracted wide attention, is sivoung 
Buffalo writer, kerker quinn, of the English faculty of the Univer- 
sity of Illinois, contributes verse and criticism to various periodicals. 
RUTH LECHLiTNER, also well known as poet and reviewer, is the 
author of Tomorrow's Phoenix, recently published by the Alcestis 
Press. She lives in Cold Spring-on-Hudson. 

[ 171 ] 



POETRY: A Magazine of Verse 


BOOKS RECEIVED 


ORIGINAL verse: 

Winter-Burrdng, by Lindley Williams HubbelL Alfred A. Knopf, 

Steel X937j by W, Lowenfels. Unity Publishers, Atlantic City, N. J. 

Foliage^ by W. H, Davies. Brace Humphries, 

The Painte/s Poke, by William Kiddier. Bruce Humphries. 

The Gypsy Lure, by Elizabeth P. Allan. Henry Harrison. 

Moods, A Book of Verse, by Idabclle Yeiser. The Colony Press, 
Philadelphia, Fa. 

Pedestrian, by Mary Ellen Jackson. Arthur H. Stockwell, London, 
England, 

Songs of Earth, by Ignace M. In^anni, Wings Press, N.Y,C. 

Out of Destruction's Reach, by Katherine Carr, Priv. ptd,, Chicago. 

/. Shako, Alumnus, and Other Verse, by Roberta Daniels. Sheffer- 
Wirt Corp,, Chicago. 

Riding Lessons on Pegasus, by Prestonia Mann Martin, Priv. ptd., 
Winter Park, Fla, 

The Micmac Trail, by A. P. Goudey. Bruce Humphries. 

Words To he Read Aloud, by Edgar B. Cronkhite. Bishop Pub. Co., 
Denver, Colo. 

PLATS Aim prose; 

Tie Hem/ s Egg and Other Plays, by W. B. Yeats. Macmillan Co. 

'^.ohin Landing, by Stanley Young. Farrar & Rinehart. 

The Cherry Tart and Other Plays, by Antoinette Scudder. Priv, ptd. 

Never to Die, The Egyptians in Their Ovtm Words, Cmnmentary and 
Arrangement of Tca^t and Pictures by Josephine Mayer and 
Tcan Pridciaux. Viking Press. 

Ve^^e^ Pamphlet, by Eugene Jolas. Tranairion Press, Paris^ 

This Masmsenpts of D. H, Lavarence, A Descriptive Catalog^ Com- 
piiea bjr Laarrehce Clark PowdL Los Angeles, PubHc Library, 
Los Angeles, 


[1723 




W-hm wridng t0 advertkttrg plan# nuttflom Bonnnr 







$1000 PRIZE 

Can a Poet Save Our Democracy? 

The Forum magazine organized a prize competition for the most 
compellmg poems challcngtng the dmertcan people to be dert to thetr 
Uberttes, 

A total of $1,000 will be awardt^ in prizes. 

This nation won an independent existence not by some process of 
abstract thought but because her men and women burned for liberty 
And now the terrifying complicatioi]^ of a machine civilization have bred 
new forces which threaten the kind of government we call democracy 
and, with it, our hard-won and long-cherished freedom Where are the 
poets who can compel us to maintain our liberty? 

In relating this poetry competition to the major world issues of the day, 
the Editors are not seeking to offer a theme but merely to strike a key- 
note It is hoped to secure clear, uncomplicated texts which may be 
set to miudc. 

The Editors hope that many leading American poets will be moved 
to enter the competition which has been divided into groups, with prizes 
for each, as follows* 

A— <5ENERAX PUBUC 

1st Pme $300 2nd Pda« $150 3rd Prisce $50 

B— COIXEGE UlSTDERGRADUATES 
1st Prize $150 2nd Prize $100 3rd Prize $50 

C-^SECONDARY-SOHOOL STUDENTS 
1st Prize $100 2nd Prize $60 3td Prize $40 
WRITERS* CONFERENCE FELLOWSHIP 

The Olivet Writer's Conference, of Obvet College, Michigan, offers a 
fellowship for 1939 covering all costs of the Conference, to the prize- 
winnmg contestant who, in the opinion of the Conference admissions 
commsittee, seems most likely to benefit by attendance at the Conference. 

CONSOIATION HUZES ' 

A copy of **Thc Complete Rhyming Dictionary,*’* edited by Clement 
Wood, will be swarded to each df the 50 contestants who seem most 
lately to profit by it. ^ 

JlB>(|3E5 — Psulcsdc Colnm, WiUiain Allan Noilson, Carl Van Docnti 

INSTRUCXIQNS poon Is to exceed 40i lines in lengthe. Manual * 
sonpits ozuft be addressed to the Poetry Contest Editor, Thr Forum; 570 t 
Lexington Avenue; New York City; and must be mailed before midnight of 
June 30, 1938 Under no circumstances will any manuscript be retorned or its ^ 
re^i^t a(3ctiowled$ed. Man|itc£%>ts mmt be clearly marked with the ^ 

and address of the contestant and with the group letter (A, B, or C) 
die dais in which the poem it being entered. Contestants in class B or C t 
must state xtatM of college at school attended. In order tso qnilify 
for a prize, the txmsmnx. must acconpmaay his wida a 

remittance of 25 cents in stamps. 



Wbtd *o edeerdutm pfecse mention. Paaqranr 




POETRY CONTEST 

Comments 

Dear Mr Leach , 

Thank you for telling me about the prizes offered by The Forum for 
contests on poems for free institutions Most popular movements have 
been accompanied by such things, and a great deal of their success has 
been due to the music to which they are set It is hard to tell beforehand 
whit will catch the popular ear, but I wish you all success in these prizes 

Yours very sincerely, 

Boston, Mass A La.wrence Lowell 

Henrt G Leach, Esq , 

Every good wish for your poetry contest. I think it Is an excellent 
idea and I hope it will have an effect 

Yours sincerely, 

Westport, Connecticut Van Wyck Brooks 

Dear Dr^ Leach^ 

We need to revive the sentiment and devotion to our instituuons 
which have been so effective in bringing us along our national course thus 
far To be successful, democracy must enlist the majority of the people in 
Its support This calls for the revival of sentiment, loyalty and a conscious* 
ness c£ our interwoven responsibilities as individual citizens and as a 
Nation 

Very sincerely, 

The Secretary of Commerce Daniel C Rover 

Washington 

Dear Mr Leach, 

In this day of bewilderment and pessimism, effective measures for the 
reinforcement of American devotion to democracy are not only desirable 
but necessary. I believe the Forum's search for stirring poetic statements 
of that devotion is a highly commendable undertaking, and you have my 
heartiest wishes for its success. 

. . . Smcerely, 

Lansing, Michigan Frank Murvhy 

Execudvt Office 

Dear Mr, Leach, 

I think you have a grand idea in the contest The Forum is to sponsor 
and hope it works out successfully. 

Very sfncerely yours, 

The White House Eihakor RoosEvsiqr 



When, wris&if So adoer^m pfaasa nusra$on PmeniT 




•By 

HARRIET MONROE 

FOtJNDEK AND EDITOR OF "POETRY" 

^ *Toefs 

Seventy Years In 
A Changing World 

”She either discovered or gave early eacour* 
agement to nearly every important American 
poet in this century." 

STERLING NORTH 

”If Harriet Monroe had not been born the 
whole history of American poetry would have 
been different" 

FANNY BUTCHER 

'*The honest and moving picture of a daugh- 
ter of 19th century culture who became leader 
of a 20th century rebellion." 

LEWIS GANNETT 

*^A chapter in the history of American culture. 
American poets may be grateful and Ameri- 
can women proud that Harriet Monroe lived." 
JOHN HOLMES 

$5,00 or my bookstore 


THE MACMILLAN COMPANY, NEW YORK 


vMOmg td plem^ Poprtir 






Vol. LII 26th Year of Publication No. IV 

POETRY for JULY 1938 

Two Poems Kenneth fearing 173 

Hold the Wire — Dollar’s Worth of Blood, Please 

A Little Nightmusic Alfred Hayes VJ7 

City James Daly 178 

Compline of the Men of Peace . . Raymond E, F, Larsson 179 

Speech William Pillin 182 

It Is My Fault Lawrence Esta<van 183 

Common Threat .... ... Norton Krieger 184 

To Federico Garcia Lorca S. Funaroff 185 

Depositions for the Fatherland 1-4 Dorothy Van Ghent 186 

The Young Ones .... . . Sterling A. Brown 189 

Hardy Perennials . Mark Turhyfill 190 

Time’s Embrace .......... Helen Neville 191 

Two Poems .Charles Hudehurg 192 

Last Year’s Flowers Photographed — ^A Song 

Summons at Night ... Virgil Geddes 194 

The Sculptor Year Seymour Gordden Link 195 

Two Poems ... ♦ . ... Weldon Kees 196 

The Inquiry — ^Poem 

The Struggle Staggers Us ... . Margaret Walker 198 

Sea and Land . Harry Roskolenko 199 

From “The Crisis” I-III Kenneth Rexroth 200 

Sanctuary • Charlotte Wilder 202 

Litany Miriam Allen DeFord 203 

My So Much Loved Variety Lola Pergament 204 

Blond Cat Melvin G. Shelley 205 

The End of the World Harold Rosenberg 206 

Defenseless Spring - H. R. Hays 208 

Journey and Return Willard Maas 209 

In Challenge Not Defense ..... Archibald MacLeish 212 

Bread and Poetry Alfred Kreymhorg 220 

Poetry Project ......... Malcolm Cowley 224 

A Brief Statement Willard Maas 227 

Reviews: , ^ * 

A Nice After-dinner Scold . . . John WheetohrtgM ^29 

Armored Car Robbery S^ Fnnarof 230 

Echo Answers , L jV. 233 

Fusion and Confusion 1% DeV. 236 

News Notes 240 

Notes on Contributors .... 243 

Books Received 246 

The Pegasus on the Cover by Eric Gill 



THE VERSE SECTION OF THIS ISSUE IS DEVOTED 
TO POEMS BY MEMBERS OF THE FEDERAL WRITERS* 
PROJECT THROUGHOUT AMERICA. THEIR WORK IS 
GROUPED HERE AS A TRIBUTE TO THE PRESENT 
SPONSORSHIP OF WRITERS BY THE UNITED STATES 
GOVERNMENT. THE EDITORS ACKNOWLEDGE WITH 
THANKS THE ADVICE AND CO-OPERATION OF 
HENRY G. ALSBERG, DIRECTOR OF THE FEDERAL 
WRITERS* PROJECT. THIS SPECIAL ISSUE IS THE RE- 
SULT OF A SUGGESTION BY WILLARD MAAS, WHO 
HAS GIVEN VALUABLE ASSISTANCE IN COLLECTING 
AND EDITING THE MATERIAL. 


Pal9bli)$i!Li4 iiiioiLthly. Bcljltorial and PnlbUcatioxi OflOlces, 2!32 Bast Brie Street, 
Ob^a^e, lutiLois. Bastem Business Bepresentative, Amy Berner, 12 We/ft 
6$ Street, YerR City. Yearly subscription rates: In the tTnlted States, 
Hegdeoy €p»a and American Possessions $3.CK>; in all other countries in the 
Bostal Ux^, $3.25. 

Mamcripts .must be aooo2npa3Qied by a stamped self-addressed envelope, 
or by iinteSHiational coupons fr<nn writers living abroad; otherwise we most 
defidine to xetam them. Payment is made on piibUcatlon. 

Bntsred as second class matter, November 15, lfil2, at the postoffice at 
qhioa$e» Illinois, nnder Act of 3£ar<m 3, 1879. 

Q&pyriffht, X938, hy tF, S, Monroe and E, S, Feicher, Execuforir 
All rights reserved 



POETRY 

A MAGAZINE OF VERSE 

VOL. LII NO, IV 

JULY 1938 

FEDERAL POETS’ NUMBER 


TWO POEMS 


HOLD THE WIRE 

TF THE doorbell rings and we think we were followed 
here ; if the bell should ring but we are not sure, 
how can we decide, 

IF IT’S ONLY THE GAS MAN it may be all right, 
IF HE’S AN AUTHORIZED PERSON IN 
A DOUBLE-BREASTED SUIT we’d better 
get it over, IF HE’S JUST A NOBODY it 
may be good news, 

or it might mean death IF THE SAMPLES ARE 
[173] 



POETRY : A Magazine of Verse 


FREE 

HOW DO WE KNOW YOU*RE THE PERSON 
THAT YOU SAY, 

Decide, decide, 

we^d better be certain if we live just once, and the 
sooner the better if we must decide, 

BUT NOT IF ITS WAR, 

not until weVe counted the squares on the wallpaper 
over and added up the circles and the circles match 
the squares, 

diall we move to the Ritz if rails go up, 

if they sign for peace we return to the city, if they 
burn and bomb the city we will go to the moun- 
tains, 

who will kill us, if they do, ana wno will carry on our 
work, 

Who arc you, who are you, you have the right number but 
the connection's very poor, 

we can hear you plain enough but we don’t like what 
you’re saying, 

yes, the order was received, but we asked for something 
eke, 

ARE YOU THE INVENTOR WHO WANTS TO 
snit, us AN INVISIBLE MAN? 

1174] 



Kenneth Fearing 


ARE YOU SOME ONE VERY FAMOUS FROM 
THE MISSING PERSONS BUREAU BUT 
YOU CAN’T RECALL THE NAME? 

IF IT’S ANOTHER BILL COLLECTOR THERE IS 
NO ONE HERE AT ALL, 

IF IT’S ADOLPH HITLER, IF IT’S THE SUBWAY 
LOVER, IF IT’S JACK THE RIPPER, 
SEND HIM IN, SEND HIM IN, IF IT’S JOLLY 
JACK THE RIPPER IN A DOUBLE- 
BREASTED SUIT AND THE SAMPLES 
ARE FREE. 


A dollar’s worth of blood, please 

With the last memo checked: They will sign, success; with 
the phone put down upon the day’s last call ; then 
with the door locked at last, 
wait, think, 

what should the final memo be? 

SAY THE LAST WORD 

SAY THE LAST WORD ADDING ALL WE’VE 
MADE AND LOST 

SAY THE LAST WORD TO WEIGH THE 
TRIUMPH SEALED IN INK AGAINST 
THE DEBT PRESERVED IN STONE AND 
THE PROFIT LOCKED IN STEEL 

[ 175 ] 



POETRY : A Magazine of Verse 


One final word that the doorman knows, too, and the lawyer 
and the drunk, 

that the clerk knows, too, sure of tomorrow’s pleasant 
surprise, 

and the stranger, who knows there is nothing on earth 
more costly than hope, and nothing in all the 
world held one-half so cheap as life, 

SAY THE FINAL WORD THAT NEED NEVER BE 
CHANGED 

Say the last word about the hard bought doubts, 

say the last word to prove there is a use for the hard 
won guile, 

say the last word that stands above and beyond the 
never - ending weakness and the never - failing 
strength, 

SAY THE LAST WORD, YOU LONG STRAIGHT 
STREETS 

SAY THE LAST WORD, YOU DUMB GUY, WISE 
GUY, FALL GUY, RIGHT GUY, SOFT 
GUY, TOUGH GUY, 

SAY THE LAST WORD, YOU BLACK SKY 
ABOVE. 

Kenneth Fearing 


[ 176 ] 



A LITTLE NIGHTMUSIC 


It is half past one 
At half past one 

The nightboy in the empty elevator 
Seduces blondes he cannot have by day 
The groceryman imagines he spots burglars 
And reaches in a nightmare for a gun 
A gun that isn^t there 
At half past one 

While cleaning women scrubbing corridors 
Wipe out the oflEice cuspidors 
And wheeze on chapped rheumatic knees 
Down disinfected stairs. 

As somewhere in a South Street rooming house 

Owned by a widow asthmatic and devout 

An ironworker lurches in a dream 

And in a dream 

Drops from a catwalk of air 

And awakens the widow with his scream 

While down Minetta Lane a stockhouse runner 

Counts his money through a haze of gin 

And pushes on the bell until 

A yellow girl looks out and lets him in. 

And north to Westchester 
And south to Battery Park 

[ 177 ] 



POETRY : A Magazine of Verse 

The shades are drawn on all the flats 
And all the rooms are dark 
On all those sleepers who await the sun 
At half past one 

And guard against the enigmas of the night 

And the unsuspected disaster 

That comes at the hour 

No one suspects and no one knows 

With a little dried love and the reassuring clocks 

The tender voices of rented radios. 

Alfred Hayes 


CITY 

It’s noises the triphammer drill the 

Incessant riveting the bang and roll of 

Trash-cans the clash of gears the El wheels 

The pneumatic tumult of subways 

The booming headlines the never-^stillness of 

Always some voice some footstep 

It’s the truck-rumbled dawns the taxied dusks 

The chug and thud of buses the 

Sticky whine of tires the angry horns the dang of 

Fire^trucks the cataclysmic sirens the cop-wShi^tles 

It^s noises that mean dty 

James Daly 


1178 ] 



COMPLINE OF THE MEN OF PEACE 


Now night: 

the mists have come, those 

rains of seasons elsewhere, and walk the lighted streets 
the scavengers in peace now glean. 


The sheen of the moon is on the leaves: 

elsewhere, 

the pallid sheen of the first sun is on the guns. 

Orion in the airs seeks now the blossom of another day 
to deck the pear: 

the courier with first reports 
seeks now the General, and the spread, unfolded sheets 
name the number of the unnumbered, nameless dead. 


The sheen of the moon is on the leaves: in rooms, 
the men of peace now kneel,— the day’s unfruitfulness, 
like Karnak, fallen in the halls; like Egypt, 
a wrangle of wrenched columns between bed and sleep: 

^'Mea culpap 


rnea culpd\ 

now rise on bloodless wings 


Elsewhere, by first of dawn, 
the men of wan 


The sheen of moon is on the leaves. The winds 


[ 179 ] 



POETRY : A Magazine of Verse 


of this sea bring inland rains, as though they brought bound 
sheaves : 

elsewhere, their spilled guts bind commonly in common sheaf 
uncommon numbers of the common dead. 

The stars of this night, 

my Lord, are fixed like fruits 
among the mysteries of branched and bending space. 

Orion in the airs seeks now the blossoms of another day. 
Elsewhere, by day, the bombs now burst, like dropped 
and rotted fruits: the heads of the falling populace, 
like fallen pomegranates, are burst. 

The men by night of peace now kneel : 

spiritu 

humilitatis, et in animo contrito, suscipiamur a te, 
Domme'^z 

they bow, they kneel, in those rooms, to dust 
and in abasement raise Thy praise. 

The gunners now take aim. 

The men of peace lift hands and supplicate 
the Mercy of Five Wounds. Elsewhere now the stones 
fall, and the twisted wreath, thornlike on the bloody Brow, 
flowers with another drop, redly aloud. 

The bomber in the upward plane 

{ 180 ] 



Raymond E. F. Larsson 


drops from the air an earthward star of desolation, 
explosively aflower with death. The men of peace, as dust, 
abase themselves to praise : the gunners in the hidden trench 
take aim, and stones which shall stand when rock and earth 
are past crash as a cornerstone. 

The men of peace, with folded hands, contritely to the dark 
abase their ways: 

"'Fiat voluntas tuae sicut in caelo, 

et in terra* \ 

by dawn, the blasted, bloody bowels 
disgorge among the sprouted wheat. The men of war, on 
charts, 

place redly crosses marking in the dawn to come 

the fruity death in desolation beneath the budding pear. 

"Who livest and reignest God, world without end*': 
the men of peace now turn to sleep. The walls of rooms 
house now the carnage of their dreams. 

In sleepless tombs, 
the men of peace turn on their beds and writhe : 

the evening paper 

at their head, the morning journal at their feet — 

the epitaph of sleep: the name spelled bloodily of **SPAIN”. 

Raymond jB- F. Larsson 


[ 181 ] 



POETRY : A Magazine of Verse 


SPEECH 

The airman on gleaming pinions 
leaping aerial blue 
is companioned by danger, 

A wire may break and the wings tremble 
and the frame whirl and flame 
across the horizon. 

But he thinks only of the flight 
and attends the controls. 

Knowing that we must die 

and the bluest, the loveliest flower 

is dusted with bones of the remotely dead, 

let us hfcewise 

think of controls: and fear only 
lack in our skill. 

Our days are plagued by the ironic grins 
of pa^ionless who grin at virtue ; 
they are dull; their comfort pitiful. 

]Ut us haye praise for those who dar6: 
the great m heart: the lovers of mankind: 
and let us have daring ourselves. 

[ 182 ] 



William Pillin 


For it is shame to view the ardent young 

and how the petals of their vibrant day 

are blown in vain, swept by the winds that sprang 

from nowhere into nothing and again. 

William Pillin 


IT IS MY FAULT 

The impact of pale charity upon 

This thin dark face indicts my smooth conceit ; 

That men for bread are given stones to eat 
Is my own fault. I am the guilty one. 

For I have been afraid to annoy the great, 

And to the tyrant I have bent the knee; 

When I protested I spoke low and late. 

Ten thousand years this fault has been with me. 

I lie, I cheat, I steal, I go deceiving 
To keep my own place in the jealous sun, 

All this for the sweet cowardice of living 
And I am you, and I am everyone. 

Lawrence Estavan 


[ 183 ] 



POETRY : A Magazine of Verse 


COMMON THREAT 

How I wait for some one to knock 
at my door ! 

Ripostes of anger, denial, 

frustration and deprivation: 

These staggering nuances pass me by. 

And should some one knock, 

Fd boldly up and take 

Full measure for measure, 

Cup flowing to overflowing: 

Airing my anger, 

Shouting my denial, 

Crying out my frustration, 

Screaming my deprivation! 

These staggering nuances shall not pass me by! 

Norton Krieger 


[ 184 ] 



TO FEDERICO GARCIA LORCA 


Guitarist, singer of folk-songs, 
strolling player who in the wilderness 
strayed where the black pigs bred, 
beasts in the ruins of a castle, 
wild boars in the towers, grunting 
the lord’s prayer in the minarets, — 
rooting in the stubble of moorish arches, 
roman columns, armor of knights 
and broken lances in moats; 
and on the battlements 
mangled limbs of the greek heroes ; 
swine grazing in the weeds of romances, 
snouts in the leaves of the classics. 

Devoured, the poems bled; yours the blood: 
spilled by the shrewd bargainer, 

March, the merchant, illiterate dealer in swine, 
gun-runner who sought to still your voice 
with gun-fire: the cries of a huckster 
trading a nation. 

Lorca, you who were the morning song of Spain, 
the song is on the lips of the people! 

S. Funaroff 


[ 185 ] 



POETRY : A Magazine of Verse 
DEPOSITIONS FOR THE FATHERLAND 
1 

Guide, oh guard this star, lion. 

The storm falls, the beasts huddle. 

Bull and scorpion divide the sky. 

In the tunnel in the shell of the hermit crab, 

In the hole in the belly of the sea cucumber, 

Weak in shelter and shadow, 

Our passionals were of amazement. 

Of tiger, tiger, and of Alexander, 

The cool killer and the symmetrical monster. 

In those distant deeps and skies v 

Console us with constellations 
Indistinct in the twilight. 

Guide the theatre of animals 

Far from polyp and from nematode. 

Guard us with inconceivables. 

2 

How shall the burnished sentient cone 
Come near the unbelieving dark. 

The dark more dearly loved than known. 

[ 186 ] 



Dorothy Van Ghent 


The dark is famous in its way. 

The dark is dignified with blisses, 

And through the wild dark run our kisses. 


The monster on the flowered hill, 
The poison in the expensive trinket. 
The serpent in the children’s blanket, 

The paupers and the surpluses 
Are ancient kindred of the cell, 
Primeval heritage of will. 

Who will conceive, who will admire 
The nervous element of fire 
Descending on the deep abysses. 

3 

Only the similitude is eager. 

Only the burning feeling is the tiger 
Divide the deed that anger 

May extend the danger. 

The nominal lion and the lamb 
Rehearsing to our times its name 

Explode the trigger 
Scatter in dreadful roar 
The veritable war. 


[ 187 ] 



THE YOUNG ONES 


With cotton to the doorstep 
No place to play; 

No time: what with chopping cotton 
All the day. 

In the broken down car 
They jounce up and down 
Pretend to be steering 
On the way to town. 


It’s as far as they’ll get 
For many a year; 

Cotton brought them 
And will keep them here. 


The spare-ribbed yard-dog 
Has gone away; 

The kids, just as hungry, 
Have to stay. 

In the two-roomed shack 
Their mammy is lying, 
With a little new brother 
On her arm, crying. 

[ 189 ] 



POETRY : A Magazine of Verse 


Another mouth to feed 
Another body to bed, 

Another to grow up 
Underfed. 

But their pappy's happy 
And they hear him say : 

“The good Lord giveth, 

And taketh away. 

“It's two more hands 
For to carry a row; 

Praise God from whom 
All blessings flow." 

Sterling A» Brown 

HARDY PERENNIALS 

Fat are the flowers 
That feast on flies, 

And sweet the graves 
That choke with flowers. 

Days like traps 
Feed upon our wants, 

And rank, and tall 
And perennial 
Grow ours. 


[ 190 ] 


Mark Turbyfill 



TIMERS EMBRACE 


Now shall no face create futures, 
or Time make heritage 
of living image. 

* 

Nor shall it be as with some old woman in the sun 
warming herself with sun’s reflections 
of the child warm with living suns. 

Is all reckoned? Is the world here? 
is Time now? shall we die? 

Where is the blossom of eternity 

to blend with light the blossom, the true sun 
to imprint the sun forever upon waning flesh? 

O I did not take the sun in a season’s flash! 

nor with bloom color the swollen blossom, nor through 

waste eyes see eternity made new: 

the child’s happiness folding the hour’s light. 

This is the world and I and my friend’s face 
beyond these hours Complete in Time’s embrace 

the light falls in the hour under the dark hours 

Helen Neville 


[ 191 ] 



POETRY : A Magazine of Verse 


TWO POEMS 


LAST year’s flowers PHOTOGRAPHED 

Last year’s flowers photographed 
carelessly are the daft 
remainder of summer’s sum, 
fruition, spent emotion, one 
holiday with one person, 
hallowed, made holy, by sun; 

pathetic fetish, relic 

of rollick, reminder, nick 

on time’s ready gun-barrel, 

trigger-certain to settle 

more ghost-seedlings in a ground 

unsuspected by pistil, 

stamen, or shrewd botanist. 

Paste it, floral-piece, on his list, 
emotion-montage by the 
patient’s pulsing, apt to be 
credit jotting where debit 
is dime curve by habit: 

discount trifles — ^the heavy 
pie, halter for the hungry. 



Charles Hudehurg 


coifee the other courses, 

those loud bed-«prings, the curses, 

the terrific cigarette, 

borrowed, and the weak sweet sweat. 

Add a beer if you can pay for it. 


A SONG 

Lovely, the weight of love 
that lies alike on bull, on dove, 
on kine and hind and boar and bear, 
equal for equal everywhere. 

Sages in sagas often say 
the way in is the way away, 
with the trumpeting and rearing, 
the sweat and the secret searing. 

Dispute and mute them with a pout: 
the way out is the way about, 
and the onion has companion, 
no quarrel for reason, season. 

Charles Hudehurg 


[ 193 ] 



POETRY; A Magazine of Verse 


SUMMONS AT NIGHT 

The night is down upon us 
here in the deep 
confusion of capitalistic greed, 

Where soul meets soul 
only in retreat and fright. 

What holds 

the shadow of this night? 

The bloated beast 

in man that drags 

its belly on the ground 

with food three times its need. 

It cannot think, 
it only grunts and craves 

For all made more delicious 
because produced by slaves. 

Comrades! It is time 
to be more than aware 
of flight and doom. 

Take the beast by the biti 
Do not be torn 

by lesser strength than your own 


[ 194 ] 



Virgil Geddes 


You have a might 
that’s fortified 
by what it knows 
and will not trust 

To those who turn 
guiltily in their sleep. 

Rise we must. 

Our future cannot be too soon. 

Virgil Geddes 

THE SCULPTOR YEAR 

The sculptor year has rounded out his plan, 
the frieze is carved, the high relief is sketched, 
and on the rising central figure, Man, 
even the lines from nose to mouth are etched 
deep in the hardening clay. The eyes are rolled 
as if toward some eternal foe behind, 
and standing out from shadows deep and bold 
are sinews taut from flight. Groping to find 
paths in the sightless dark, the hands of clay 
possess a mineral uncertainty. 

Stroking his beard, the sculptor turns away, 
followed by frightened eyes that cannot see. 

Seymour Gordden Link 


[ 195 ] 



POETRY : A Magazine of Verse 


TWO POEMS 

THE INQUIRY 

Do you wear a web over your wasted worth f 
I wear a web 

You fear the keyhole* s splintered eyef 
I fear the eye 

Can you hear the worthless morning* s mirth f 
I hear it 

The broken braying from whitening skies f 
Yes I hear it yes 

To spend the end and feed the fire 
is day’s insistence, night’s demand: 
to pay the unrequested fare 
and wave the wavering wand. 

The streets are full of broken glass, 
sparkling in this frenzied noon. 

With naked feet and bandaged eyes 
yoit*ll walk them — not just now, but soon. 


[ 196 ] 



Weldon Kees 


POEM 

Mind’s residue is vein-violet 
(old vromen with their stockings 
hanging down) — ^gorged with 
color and superb as light. 

“The spangled riddle is twitter 
and purr,” the mussels murmured. 
Then departed. 


Of an evening, 

in the empty park, sometimes I hear 
the rustle of revival-meeting 
pamphlets. Band music, with 
surrealist trumpets, knives the air. 

Eagles with tusks perform in sieves. 

The ectoplasm of Immanuel Kant unwittingly appears. 

These bilious things, fracturing 

the night’s surface, swerve 

into graphs, hanging like crags in jagged lines: 

— profound, perfect, and 
not without meaning. 

Weldon Kees 


[ 197 ] 



POETRY : A Magazine of Verse 
THE STRUGGLE STAGGERS US 


Our birth and death are easy hours like sleep 
and food and drink. The struggle staggers us 
for bread, for pride, for simple dignity. 

And this is more than fighting to exist, 
more than revolt and war and human odds. 

There is a journey from the Me to You. 

There is a journey from the You to Me. 

A union of the two strange worlds must be. 

Ours is a struggle from a too warm bed, 
too cluttered with a patience full of sleep. 

Out of this blackness we must struggle forth ; 
from want of bread, of pride, of dignity. 

Struggle between the morning and the night, 
this marks our years, this settles, too, our plight. 

Margaret Walker 


[ 198 ] 



SEA AND LAND 


Nothing is here but the sky, 

which brightens the lone breakers — 

rolling on the beach! 

the white surf sounding 

among the inland trees. The birds, 

chirping, hang on the leaves 

like modern flowers, with eyes and mouth 

and wings that seek the seeker out; 

whose chatter is recorded in our books 

like an auto horn! 

yet where autos cannot ride the breakers, 
cannot glide through forests, climb on trees; 
not made of gears that spin 
the crowded fronts of the sagging world — 
where the roads in ovals thin 
the whirling passengers in uneven race; 
from air, to land and sea 
they drift in space. 

Harry Roskolenko 


[ 199 ] 



POETRY: A Magazine of Verse 


FROM ‘‘THE CRISIS** 

I 

you return breathless having started 
phoenixes m the arroyos and having seen 
on porphyry altars the pelican 
rend itself tirelessly and the creature 
with uncounted eyes 

and who now creaking in rust soft armour 

will bring this taper to the outer room 

0 the lost phalanxes the engulfed Gemini 

where the guillotine animal flies over the drowned lands 

and the bleached heads turn incuriously 

and no hand lifts 

this Prometheus breeds his own eaglets 

at first daybreak a voice opens crevices in the air 

“fear no more** 

the horns of those grey himters wind along 

ridges more inaccessible than dream 

speak not let no word break 

the stillness of this anguish 

the omniscience of this vertigo 

these lucent needles are fluent 

in the gold of every memory 

the past curls like wire 


[ 200 ] 



Kenneth Rexrotk 


11 

and now surprised by lunar mountain avatars 

the avid eyes of gravid mice entice 

each icy nostrum of the zodiac 

sidelong on quavering feet the giants tread 

the white Excaliburs the zero saws 

the igneous granite pencils silvering 

the plunge of light the conies barking 

the white lips speak and Danae 

Danae writhing in the fluent metal 

the camels the llamas the dogsleds the burros 

are loaded and go off in the white distance 

and green over them the nova grows above the pass 


III 

shall see no more then what the daylight's aftet 
shall ask no more then forget the asker 
shall fail at laughter and in the dark 
go mumbling the parched gums fumbling the baggy heart 
bark with the mice in the rubbish bayed at by rats 
the glaciers are senile and covered with dust but the moun- 
tain cracks 

the orange red granite breaks and the long black slivers fall 
fine ice in the air and the stone blades falling and the open- 
ing vault 


[ 201 ] 



POETRY : A Magazine of Verse 


and the high milk blue lake tipping over its edge in a mile 
long wavering water-fall 

and for these weapons in what forge and from what steel 
and for this wheat what winnowing floor what flail 

Kenneth Rexroth 


SANCTUARY 

I see my dead, lying in the slops 
of the gutter, 

I see my dead, driven from the doors 
of the shelter, 

I see my dead, harried to the holes 
of the shambles, 

I see my dead, saith the Lord : 

He sees Ms dead, say the dead, 
clinging to the ghost of hts altar. 

Charlotte Wilder 


[ 202 ] 



LITANY 


For the cast aside and slighted; 

For the doer of unrequited good; 

For the weeper in dark places, 

Whom no mortal claims in brotherhood; 

For the hugger close of sorrow; 

For the stupid wise enough for pain; 

For the unthanked and the unwelcome, 

The giver whose gift is made in vain ; 

For the sufferer who is silent; 

For the sufferer who grotesquely cries; 

For the timid and deserted, 

Him the careless and the harsh despise; 

For the unbeloved lover; 

For the rebuffed of self-sufficient men ; 

For the vanquished tired with fighting, 

The lonely without heart to seek again. 

Miriam Allen deFord 


[2033 



POETRY : A Magazine of Verse 


MY SO MUCH LOVED VARIETY 

The heavens rejoice m motion, why should I 
abjure my so much loved vanety? 

John Donne 

Love came like crates, piled at the terminal station. 

I smiled acceptance, thinking of old Dean Donne 
and how he would have pranced, unpacking one 
crate and another with a child’s elation. 

First came the artificial hearth, equipped 

with irons to stir an artificial fire, 

then came a mattress stitched for hard desire. 

I put the little plant out in the sun. 

So let me kiss you, now that I have whipped 
the tenderness from me and let me look 
no deeper in your eyes than I have seen 
a lengthy bill of lading in a book, 

Jf'or I have signed my name to it, who lean 
above your breast, quite reverent, like the Dean. 

Lola Pergameni 


[ 204 ] 



BLOND CAT 


Under her conversation, 

Under her yellow hair, 

I touched the skull 
Of a bald headed man 
Who was playing cards with her 
In a game I did not understand. 

Then she disappeared 
Into the lining of her gown 
And in my lap 
I found 

A big blond cat 
Looking up at me 
With great electric eyes. 

I rubbed her yellow fur, 

I stroked her velvet throat, 

And went on learnii^ 

From the bald headed man 
The game I did not understand. 

Melvin G, Shelley 


[2051 



POETRY : A Magazine of Verse 


THE END OF THE WORLD 

Come, let him part his skin 
For enormous breasts 
Anoint his thighs 
Clutch with his mouth! 


For in his veins 
Pale as stone, Death 
With the ceaseless quiver 
Of water is riding fast 


Arrk! screams his heart 
Like an eagle trapped 
Like a god’s head crushed 
Among the clouds 


Locked forever — hidden, 

What incandescent orgies 
What transformations and returns; 
Let the angels congregate! 


[ 206 ] 



Harold Rosenberg 


And the archbishop 
With enormous hands, 
Kings, gypsies, generals, all 
Thrown up by a dying age 


Here at the bed 
Of the Purely Personal 
Luminous and prone ; in whom 
Like an aquarium 


The lips of the Organic 
Separate and dose — while bone 
Crumbles unnoticed 
From his waving limbs. 


Open the Book, Monsignor, 

And bray the organ vowels: 

In nomine . , . comforting as cannons 
That blast his breath away, 

Harold Rosenberg 


[ 207 ] 



POETRY: A Magazine of Verse 


DEFENSELESS SPRING 

1200 killed in new raid on Barcelona — 

And not a quiver in this lazy air! 

The streets are bright to-day. 

Even the cops drive out upon the pier 
And stand 

And stare down the river. 

The water's cold but soon 
Kids will be diving. 

Now smoke curls upward 
Like a warm color. 

Women come out of doorways 
As if out of the ground. 

Grey street corners 
Grow flower sellers. 

On fire escapes 
Bedding blossoms. 

People sit in the sim. 

Defenseless spring, 

Miraculoxis, dangerous season — 

Caught like a sleepwalker 
40 stories up, 

Still 

The wind feels good. 

H. R. Hays 


[ 208 ] 



JOURNEY AND RETURN 


Whatever our hearts spoke 
We shall remember then: 

Pink animals of the sea 
Touched by our hands, 

The sound of the trees 

In the early morning dark 

Breaking like waves over the black land. 


Travel far where the castles 
Rot by the brown rivers 
And the pheasants stir the thistles, 
The liner plunges the ocean. 

And the breast gives back 
To the flesh the lover 
And the night’s sweet motion. 


What touch of hand recalls the years 
And the lips remember: 

The coffee house on the speedway, the arbor 
With the hammock, the motor races. 

The island out beyond the harbor 
And the rumors of the war 
Laid out upon the gr^s. 


[209J 



POETRY: A Magazine of Verse 


The glass bottom boat moved soundlessly 
Over the violet water, 

Star fish and anemones, 

Pink dahlias of the sea. 

Spreading beneath the lovers* eyes. 

The jagged cliflEs reached out beyond the sky, 
Breath leaned to breath, knees to knees. 


We saw the little town hidden in pines, 

The small houses with blue shutters 
Carved with crescent moons. 

Millionaires and their Byzantine towers, 
Japanese gardens in Italian ruins. 

And the big blue foreign limousines 

Brought the bankers* wives to the moonlit dunes. 


Travel far where the sphinx stands 
Crumbling with an empire, 

The gold statues and the tall sands. 

And our thoughts turn back to the hills. 
Asphalt roads through the hot valley. 
The arms circling about bonfires 
The night before the football rally. 


[2101 



Willard Maas 


We were in love with the movie queen 
Kissing the celluloid dark, 

The newsreel sports, the travelogue, 

Tennis on the lawn in the afternoons, 

While the pale boys with the luminous eyes 
Passed on the sidewalk arm in arm 
And disappeared in the dangerous park. 


Fathom beyond the microscope 
And the salamander dissected 
Where the doors unfold 
Revealing the heart infected, 

The hot band and the new jazz step, 
The falling markets, graduation, 
And the parents growing old. 


And whatever our hearts spoke 
We shall remember now 
As the moon curdles red and the hills 
Are lost with the springes bright boughs, 

And the naked trees in the dark 

Cry out with dreams before we awake 

With machineguns mounted on the window sills. 

Willard Maas 


[2111 



POETRY : A Magazine of Verse 
IN CHALLENGE NOT DEFENSE 


T he time is past for the defenses of poetry. The de- 
fenses have all been written. The time now is for the 
challenges. 

The patient, kidding, ironical challenges to those who 
tell us poetry is dead. Let them bury it then. Let them 
bury the big bones of Yeats and the Hamlet-grinning skull 
of Eliot and the man-smelling shirt of Carl Sandburg and 
the splintered china and bright glass of Wallace Stevens and 
the quiet cricket-talking of Frost in the dead leaves and the 
mole-rummaging under the lot of Eizra Pound and the tens 
and twenties of young ones writing a great line like a motto 
cut into marble and throwing it out like trash for the prom- 
ise of something better just beyond. Let them bury them 
all if they can, heaping the disappointed, middle-aging words 
on the top for an epitaph. Let them bury them all and go 
off with the crocodile tears in their eyes and return with the 
next day’s sun to the big hole in the ground and the snicker 
of grasshoppers. 

The loudmouthed, disrespectful, horselaughing challenges 
to those who tell us poetry is **pure”. Those who tell us 
poetry is ^^poetry”. Those who tell us poetry is a parlor 
game and has no truck with the living of live men or the 
npwy of hwgry men or the politics of ambitious men or 
the indignation of believing men. Those who tell us the 
eternal poetry is the poetry written about the feeling of 
being dreadfully alone. Those with the High Standards. 

[ 212 ) 



In Challenge Not Defense 


(The impotent have the High Standards: the begetters 
beget.) Those with the Love of Posterity. (Posterity is 
the offspring of the childless.) Those who escape into mir- 
rors — ^into the gentleman-farms and the upstairs rooms with 
the view of the river and the seminars at five p.m. The 
loudmouthed disrespectful challenge to all such to come out 
of their words and their paragraphs into the open air of the 
art and say their say in the sun with the wind blowing. 
The loudmouthed disrespectful challenge to look at the ac- 
tual world and say what poetry is native to the actual world: 
to read the poetry of Dante and say what poetry is native to 
the actual world ; to read the poetry of Shakespeare and say 
what poetry is native to the actual world ; to lay their High 
Standards down alongside the poetry of Dante and of 
Shakespeare and see how small an inch their yard-stick 
measures in the actual world. 

The time is past for the defenses and the time has come 
for the challenges because there is no way of stating the 
defense of poetry which does not become a challenge. There 
is no way of asking whether we should permit poetry to 
continue to exist which does not ask instead whether poetry 
will permit us to continue to exist. For it is the second 
question and not the first which is sensible and which must 
be answered. The first is a question for the debating socie- 
ties in the preparatory schools. The second is a question 
for mortal men. 

We live in a time of crisis in which the heart of the crisis 
is that question. The crisis of our time as we #aie begin- 

[2131 



POETRY : A Magazine of Verse 


ning slowly and painfully to perceive is a crisis not of the 
hands but of the heart. It is a crisis of hunger — ^but not a 
crisis of hunger created by any doubt as to our ability to 
feed ourselves. It is a crisis of cold — ^but not a crisis of 
cold created by any doubt as to our ability to put roofs 
over our heads or clothes on our backs. It is a material 
crisis in which there is not now nor has there ever been 
since the beginning of these times the least question of our 
material wealth. It is a crisis in other words of which the 
entire cause lies in the hearts of men. 

The failure is a failure of desire. It is because we the 
people do not wish — because we the people do not know 
what it is that we should wish — ^because we the people do 
not know what kind of world we should imagine, that this 
trouble hunts us. The failure is a failure of the spirit: a 
failure of the spirit to imagine; a failure of the spirit to 
imagine and desire. Human malevolence may perhaps have 
played its part. There are malevolent men as there are 
stupid men and greedy men. But they are few against the 
masses of the people and their malevolence like their stu- 
pidity could easily be swept aside if the people wished: if 
the people knew their wish. 

Last year and the year before that and the year before 
that year men used to talk of the paradox of starvation in 
the midst of plenty. The implication was that we starved 
because there were evil men who wished that we should 
starve or incompetent men who were unable to provide us 
with food. But truly it was not at all this that the paradox 

[ 214 ] 



In Challenge Not Defense 


of starvation in the midst of plenty implied. The true 
implication of the bread lines under the heaped up wheat 
elevators in Minneapolis was the failure of the people, of 
ourselves the people, to imagine the world in which we 
wished to believe. 

For once we had imagined that world we had only to 
reach out our hands to make it real. Never before in the 
history of this earth has it been more nearly possible for 
a society of men to create the world in which they wished 
to live. In the past we assumed that the desires of men 
were easy to discover and that it was only the means to 
their satisfaction which were difficult. Now we perceive 
that it is the act of the spirit which is difficult; that the 
hands can work as we wish them to. It is the act of 
the spirit which fails in us. With no means or with very 
few, men who could imagine a common good have created 
great civilizations. With every means, with every wealth, 
men who are incapable of imagining a common good create 
now ruin. 

This failure of the spirit is a failure from which only 
poetry can deliver us. In this incapacity of the people to 
imagine, this impotence of the people to imagine and beUeve, 
only poetry can be of service. For only poetry of all those 
proud and clumsy instruments by which men explore thh 
planet and tihiemselves, creates the thing it sees. Only poetry, 
exploring the spirit of matn, is capable of creating in ^ 
breathful of words the common good men have become in- 

[ 215 ] 



POETRY I A Magazine of Verse 


capable of imagining for themselves. Only poetry, moving 
among living men on the living earth, is capable of discov- 
ering that common world to which the minds of men do, 
inwardly, not Icnowing it, assent. 

Certainly the economists to whom we have thus far ap- 
pealed in the disasters of our time cannot help us. Mathe- 
maticians of the mob, their function is to tell us what, as 
mob, we have done. When they call their observations laws 
and bridge the future with them all their work falls down. 
When they try to build their theories out beyond the past, 
ahead of history, they build like wasps with paper. And 
for this reason: their laws come after, not before, the act 
of human wishing and the human wish can alter all they 
know. In Germany and Italy where men, some men, 
enough men to have power, have imagined life-like melo- 
dramas to take up the laci of life, the world’s economists are 
made to look like infants. Both states by every economic 
rule have been insolvent now for years. And yet they arm, 
build planes, wage wars, kill Spanish women the economists 
would say they could not build nor wage nor kill. Econo- 
mists likfe all historians believe the future from the past. 
The future differs from the past in one particular: men 
wait for it and men can change. Men can grow tired and 
discouraged ^d wish change. Men can grow tired of the 
old excuses and the threadbare frauds and wish new answers. 
The itian who gives them answers from the past and says: 
You did this once; you’ll do this twice, will not persuade 
them when tldyhe truly tired, 

[ 216 ] 



In Challenge Not Defense 


Only poetry that waits as men wait for the future can 
persuade them. The church cannot. The church concerns 
itself with souls but with each soul alone and for a different 
purpose. It possesses an eternal truth in which the ages of 
the human spirit, the great successive images which one by 
one have moved the hearts of men, are like the little winds 
that blur the sea. It solves the difficult arithmetic of this 
hard world by writing the equations on a blackboard some- 
where else. Poetry can have no elsewhere. Poetry is art 
and, being art, committed to this earth, confined within the 
shallow water of this air. Its matter is what men can see 
and sense and know. Its medium is speech : most common, 
human, touched and worn of all materials that men have 
used for art. Its end is man: not men alone, not men in 
secret — ^men as they are different, — ^men turned souls and 
grown distinguishable for eternity, but man. The common 
loveliness that all men everywhere have known: the com- 
mon fears: the common passions: the despairs. 

Why do poets, generation after generation, time out of 
mind, repeat: The sea is beautiful; women are beautiful; 
the sun is beautiful? Because for each man it is new? 
No. Because for all men it is old. Because the loveliness, 
the poetry, is in the commonness, the recognition. Became 
it is the love, the wonder, that is poetry and not the object 
of the love or wonder. Generation after generation poetry 
has kept this record of the hearts of men. Wc who jare now 
alive, the poets say, we men now living in this earth, we 
are still loyal to the sun: we are still loyal to the evening 

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POETRY: J Magazine of Verse 


and the odor of the water m the evening. 

Poetry alone in such a time as ours when all the images 
are blurred and doubtful, when men go starved because 
they cannot wish in common — ^poetry alone imagines, and 
imagining creates, the loyalty for lack of which we cannot 
live ; for lack of which we cannot even eat, be covered and 
be warm. Poetry alone imagines, and imagining creates, 
the world that men can wish to live in and make true. For 
what is lacking in the crisis of our time is only this: this 
image. Its absence is the crisis. The issues men call issues 
are no issues. The issue between a planned economy and an 
economy called free is not an issue. The issue between a 
big-unit regulated economy and a small-unit competitive 
economy is not an issue. Such differences are differences of 
tactics, differences of means. The fact that we can talk of 
them as though they touched the life and death of our society 
merely betrays the poverty of our minds. Actually the issue, 
the one issue, we should talk about is this: What do we love? 
What truly do we love? To what do we desire to be loyal ? 
Once we know the answer to that question everything will 
follow of Itself. Once we know the thing that we desire to be 
the things that we must do will follow of themselves. 

The defense of poetry in this time is a challenge. It is a 
dtiallenge to all those who quarrel about the means by which 
the people shall be saved to hold their tongues and be silent 
Until the pWts shall have given the people speech. It is 
a challenj^e all those who would stop the mouths of the 

[ 218 ] 



In Challenge Not Defense 


poets with their pantry notions of pure poetry and their 
gentleman's gentleman's Standards of what a poet does, to 
hold their tongues and be humble until the poets have been 
heard. A poet like any other artist, like any other honest 
man acting as an honest man, does what he must do, what 
he has no choice but do. In a time like ours his poetry is 
like the poetry written in this time, for he has no choice 
but write such poetry. He writes the people yes because 
the yes of the people boils up through all the lovely images 
of the lake beyond the dunes, and all the glimpses backward 
into personal time, and will not let him rest until it is writ- 
ten. And writing it he brings the mind of this nation one 
step nearer to an understanding of its will, and one step 
nearer to an imagination of the world in which it can believe 
and which, believing, it can bring about. 

Those who wish authority for such conclusions may have 
authority. The authority is Aristotle's, In that great un- 
finished definition of poetry in which Aristotle distinguished 
poetry from history he said: history draws things which 
have happened but poetry things which may possibly happen. 
In that word “possibly" is the whole aesthetic to justify the 
human and world-walking poetry of this generation. For 
the possibility of which Aristotle speaks is human possibility. 
History draws things which have happened: poetry things 
which are possible to men. In this time in which every- 
thing is possible except the spirit to desire and the love to 
choose, poetry becomes again the one deliverer of the people. 

Archibald Macl^mk 


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POETRY : A Magazine of Verse 


BREAD AND POETRY 

T O THE experienced ear of the poet, nothing is quite 
so tiresome as the oldfashioned^ plaint that art can only 
flourish under hardship and the poet under a leaky roof 
on a diet of bread and water. This nonsense has an appeal 
for rocking-chair readers and people who like a good cry 
with ,what they read, but the blunt facts are that a man 
has to live in order to write and exist in order to live. 
Time spent on economic worriment is time distracted and 
energy wasted, and a healthy body is a better machine than 
a starved one. In short, time is another word for freedom 
and confidence. 

Happily, our nation-wide depression, with its problems 
of relief and unemployment, has brought home the facts 
and revealed their essential character. Men are out of 
work through no fault of their own and simply cannot 
fimction, privately or publidy. This dangerous problem, 
as we all know by now, was turned over to the Works 
Progress Administration and, in the course of human events, 
artists, along with bankers, farmers and workers in industry, 
were ^ven jobs at a living wage. Although the government 
was accused of going into business, and many a Croesus 
groaned at the mounting taxation, the WPA, notwithstand- 
mg its inexperience, the haste in which the ptojects were 
established, and the endless red tape throng which they 
were handled, succeeded in doing things whidi had never 
keen done before and leaving some excellent records on the 

[ 220 ] 



Bread and Poetry 


calendar. Not the least of these were made by the artists 
on the four Arts Projects. 

Naturally, some of the work has been bad or useless, 
funds being wasted on men and women who deserved no 
place among genuine artists. Furthermore, where leader- 
ship fell to the wrong persons, workers suffered, and ad- 
vancement came to people with a talent not for art, but 
for politics. However, since no society is perfect, and we 
have to judge any age by its outstanding effort, we may 
safely assume that the plan as a whole was worthy and 
merits the further encouragement of the nationally minded 
citizen. The benefits have been two-fold: The artist has 
been allowed to work and the public has been made aware 
of an American cultural movement. Admission to Federal 
theatres, concerts, galleries and guide books has been nomi- 
nal, and art has been disseminated among many people to 
whom it was a foreign language in the past. Still more 
important, local communities were taught to develop and 
respect their own creative talents. 

In the early days of the Writers* Project, it was found, 
as elsewhere, that the government .had no right to compete 
with industry — ^in this case, the professional magazines and 
publishers. This meant that no author could sit down on 
government time with a view to writing a book for the 
regular market. Such work had to be done on i^re time 
and with depleted energies. Since the income on all work 
done on the projects had to revert to the government, a 
feeling arose that a man might write a successful novd, 

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POETRY \ A Magazine of Verse 


only to receive $23.86 a week on a book that sold in the 
thousands. And the book would be issued, not by his 
employer, but through a commercial source. This was a 
complicated problem. It was then the Guide Books were 
set up and all hands went in for research. This idea, 
scorned at the outset, has made a fine impression in time, 
still challenged, however, by the creative spirit. Pub- 
lishers ultimately welcomed the idea and more and more 
books were sanctioned by them. In other words, industry 
found the government helpful and gave its efiFort a com- 
mercial accolade. Meanwhile, the creative writer, finding 
creative work on the other projects, among painters, sculp- 
tors and musicians, demanded more room and time for his 
own private effort. I don’t know j'ust how this problem 
was solved, but have heard that a creative project now 
exists among the authors. Out of this movement, two ex- 
cellent books have emerged: the American Stuff antholo- 
gies: and collected work has appeared in the magazines. 
Even the poet has been recognized and he finds his largest 
welcome in a magazine which has spent more time on 
poetry than any other magazine in history. 

It is not my place to comment on the selections. I have 
tried to give a brief survey of the background out of which 
this issue came, and to play fair among the contradictory 
fectors which now make room for the artist in , our society. 
It seems to me (as it does to many other people) that the 
time has arrived for the creation of an art movement sup- 
ported by the people through its government, and divorced 

[ 222 ] 



Bread and Poetry 


from the “relief*’ and “charity” associated with the WPA. 
No self-respecting individual can accept such terms, nor can 
any of his democratic brethren ask him to accept them. On 
the other hand, the greatest care must be exerted against 
subjecting the arts to bureaucracy, or letting the leadership 
descend to clever people. I’d rather see the poet return to 
the garret in preference to accepting the condescending forces 
his defensive position raises. Poetry is an extremely diffi- 
cult art written, for the most part, by extremely sensitive 
persons. If they are to be run at all, they should be run 
by persons who xinderstand them. And this understanding 
should extend to the poet in these pages: to unknown youth 
and the poet of the future. 

If poets are “odd” at all, they are odd because of a com- 
petitive civilization in which men are judged by the money 
they earn. Plato was not the first man — ^nor is he the last 
— ^to banish the poet. Drive a man into the cold, you force 
him to become an outlaw and a specialist: his work has a 
precious tendency and is addressed, apparently, only to the 
few. But real poetry, the best poetry, comes out of the 
race and finds expression in its outstanding spirits. To 
neglect such writers is to neglect the race itself and to con^ 
sign the age to folly and oblivion. 

dlfred Kreymborg 


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POETRY \ A Magazine of Verse 


POETRY PROJECT 

A mong all the crafts and trades that are practiced in 
America, poetry is the one that most needs and de- 
serves public support. It is the first of all the literary arts 
and the key to appreciating the others. Yet the poets have 
gone without wages not only since the depression but since 
the first English settlement at Jamestown. 

It is true that a very few American poets have made a 
comfortable living by their work. Longfellow did ; though 
I doubt that without a Harvard professorship he could 
have afforded his big house on Brattle Street. No poet of 
our own day has earned as much as Longfellow. A few, 
like Robinson Jeffers, have had a small inherited income. 
Others have read their poems in public, for very small fees, 
or have given lectures to Browning Clubs. Two or three 
at the most have subsisted entirely by selling poems and 
books of poems. Among them, Edwin Arlington Robinson 
is an almost heroic example of faithfulness to one ideal in 
the midst of a poverty that lasted until late in his middle 
life. Althou^ *we all look up to him, not many of us would 
follow his example. He sacrificed to poetry not only the 
comforts and luxuries of an ordinary existence, but also some 
things that are necessary to poets — ^books, music, travel, the 
stimulation of meeting other minds as keen as his own. He 
had to turn in upon himself; and it seems to me that his 
latter poems* in their bodilessness and lade of sensuous 
warmth, shot^v the result of his early privations. 

[ 224 ] 



Poetry Project 


And these are great men whose names we have just men- 
tioned, Of the rest, we can only say that they got along 
as best they could. They were janitors or Greenwich Vil- 
lage night-club entertainers or professors or rich women’s 
pets — or else they engaged in other branches of writing, like 
book reviewing or biography, that yielded a small financial 
return — or else they abandoned literature altogether and 
went into advertising or selling, with a feeling of being 
where they didn’t belong. American poetry for the most 
part has been the expression of adolescent love and lyric 
frenzy and early sorrow. Some people think that this is 
the only poetry. But there is also the poetry of maturity, 
of long projects slowly conceived and executed with patient 
care. That type of writing we have lacked, and chiefly for 
the reason that most of our poets have had to cut short their 
careers before they were well started. 

It is not at all certain that those who ceased to write 
poetry were always less talented than those who persevered. 
Perhaps they were simply less obstinate or less willing to 
sacrifice their dependents. On this subject one could argue 
for hours with no means of reaching a final answer. All 
we can say is that, in America, there has been a tremendous 
wastage of poetic talent. 

I am of course describing a condition that has prevafled 
since the begiimings of American literature. The depres- 
sion years have changed it in two respects. In the first 
place, there have been very few of those business opportuni- 
ties that used to tempt poets into other occupations by hold- 

[2251 



Poetry Project 


ers and composers and playwrights. That is the aim of the 
Federal Arts Bill, a proposal that has its promise, its faults 
and its dangers. The faults, I think, are worth correcting 
and the dangers worth facing. If we want to have poets 
in this country, we will have to keep them alive. 

Malcolm Cowley 

A BRIEF STATEMENT 

^"T^HE economic status of a group of poets, I suppose, can- 
not make a school of poetry, though it is quite possible 
that in time the poets’ aesthetic approach may tend to unify 
by the continuation of that status. This is true of non- 
literary people who register their economic position through 
political thought and action, and there is no reason to be- 
lieve that the poet differs greatly from other individuals 
in that respect. However, at the present time I can see 
only the slightest relationship between the work of these 
poets and their collective plight. 

This collection of poetry, therefore, may be said to be 
eclectic, and rightly so, I believe; and it will serve as an 
argument against those who hold the viewpoint that the 
establishment of a permanent Federal Bureau of Fine Arts 
will make for the regimentation of the artist. It would 
hardly seem appropriate for the writer to attempt an evalu- 
ation of the literary merits of this issue, but it is worth noting 
that almost every current movement in modem poetry is 
represented, as well as several social viewpoints. For ex- 

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POETRY : A Magazine of Verse 


ample, R. E. F* Larsson is a well-known Catholic poet, 
and at least one contributor admits to being a Communist, 
Geographically, all sections of the country are represented. 

But in the end, the most revealing, if shocking discovery 
to be made, is that these poets, with few exceptions, have 
been forced to qualify for relief in order to obtain their 
present connections with the Federal Writers’ Project. It 
is a little ironic, it seems to me, that the poet, the most 
over-romanticized of all artists, must be reduced to desti- 
tution before being allowed a modicum of financial security 
in order to practice his profession. One can only hope that 
this will not continue to be the ‘‘American Way” of spon- 
soring art. The passage of the Federal Arts Bill would 
allow all art, including poetry, to function with dignity in 
a supposedly democratic and progressive society. 

In ending this brief statement, it may be well to add a 
word as to the conditions under which this work was writ- 
ten and collected. All these poems were written on “off- 
project time,” though many of them were made possible 
through the writers being given time for creative work. 
Particularly unpleasant to record is the fact that at the 
time of this writing the creative endeavors in New York 
have been curtailed and the creative magazine American 
Stuff suspended. It is hoped that by the time this issue is 
rdeased, this order will have been rescinded. In any case, 
iiis Federal Poets’ Number of Poetry should be an affirm- 
ative Yoice for its reestablishment or expansion. 

Willard Maas 


[ 228 ] 



REVIEWS 


A NICE AFTER-DINNER SCOLD 

Bulling er Bound and Other Poems, by Leonard Bacon. 

Harper & Brothers. 

^'"T^HE intended moral of the book is good — ^how with ade- 
quate persons the performance outruns the desire and 
what varied forms tragedy or pathos assume where desire 
outruns performance. To Bacon, the t3rpes of the adequate 
are men who have enough money and sense to go hunting. 
These (together with dead writers) he contrasts to uni- 
versity students and teachers (and to living writers) as to 
types of the inadequate. 

However good poems Bacon has written (and books of 
them rise, as Dr. Holmes raised the after-dinner speech at 
the club or reunion, to the level of literature) his perform- 
ance has never, it seems, outrun his desire. This soured 
his natural gusto. Although he condemns Eliot out of court, 
his message is as dour as Eliot’s and as culture-philistine, 
without Eliot’s grace of cultivation or humility before liv- 
ing tradition. 

Not the title poem but Weldon Kirk, the short story of 
a poet undone by his English professor, is the best piece 
in Bullinger Bound, which for the most part without Nw 
Yorker slicfcness gets only as far as the New Yorker towards 
a literary destination. The title poem is not nearly as di- 
verting reading as the epical rhapsody Quincihad; nor is 

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POETRY : A Magazine of Verse 


Weldon Kirk as final a statement in academic indictment as 
PLD.'s. 

Bacon’s fault has always been a sketchiness which blurs 
both outline and shade of meaning. Poetry comes hard 
to him. It is only when in full dress that he gives the illu- 
sion of being virtuose and here, where he appears in neglige, 
he appears with negligence. In BulUnger Bound all the 
characters have the same ideas and all speak like the author. 
As a result, the author’s assertions that all contemporary 
literature is unmitigated bunk are deprived of authority. 
The same quaint assertion would have seemed, if as dull, 
at least less sour-bellied if Bacon had had the taste to give 
it light and shade by the means of folk-craft, in condemn- 
ing with faint praise. But as he has caught up the scold- 
ing tone of State Street in re the New Deal, listeners find 
themselves wondering what it can be that makes him scold 
so, and they have too little energy left over to learn exactly 
what it is he scolds about. 

John Wheelwright 
ARMORED CAR ROBBERY 

The Day's Workj by Oscar Brynes. Harcourt, Brace. 

This book is a horselaugh at the expense of the New 
York City police department, and police in general. After 
perpetrating the crime of sitting upon the dignity of the 
law and quoting, with tongue in his cheek, from the wisdom 
of departmental publications, the author makes a perfect 

[2301 



Armored Car Robbery 


getaway and thumbs his nose at them from the pages of 
his book. For example: 

When the night’s over . , . 
and the lamps outside are dimming to a spark; 
when the whole city like an absent-minded 
lady in a nightgown seems to have nothing on 
as she wanders into the sunlight nearly blinded 
it’s the police force you depend upon. 

The criminals in The Day's Work also commit the un- 
pardonable crime of pulling “the biggest cash heist in U. S* 
history’' right from under the noses of the police and get- 
ting away with it. To this day the forces of law and order 
have failed to nab the gang of crooks that planned and 
executed this amazing half-million dollar armored car rob- 
bery two blocks from a police precinct in New York City. 

The author uses the facts of this notorious event as mate- 
rial for his story in verse and executes a neatly planned, 
well-timed literary job. He draws a slyly mocking, humor- 
ous portrait of a flatfoot on his beat in the early hours of 
the morning, and of an habitually suspicious detective: 

f, . . the dressed detector of the scene, 
deponent who observes the world on oath . . . 

The world, like a pageant he is paid to see 
begins with victual, but is villainous; 
this is what makes the world so serious. 

The scene in which the leader of the gang meets with his 
mob to discuss plans for the hold-up and demands a twenty 
per cent cut of the swag for his commission is rendered in 
the vernacular of gangsters; probing beneath the trade jar- 
gon, it seems more like a parody of a meeting of brokers 

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POETRY : A Magazine of Verse 


regarding stock deals and commissions. Although Brynes 
handles the jargon familiarly and appropriately enough, my 
objection to the use of slang as verse is that it inclines to- 
wards rhetoric rather than poetry and tends to read like 
a lexicon of racketeer dialect. 

The description of the actual robbery is lively and has 
the excitement and immediacy of the tabloid story, but with- 
out the strained sensationalism of the press. Lines like the 
“blind end of a dining car/ where coifee is the color of 
men’s eyes” ; “wonder crumbled in chromium and iced with 
gleam,/ a taxicab swam curbward like a dream”; and the 
following passage describing an armored car: 

Bumbling like a bug that cannot lift itself 
but buzzes instead its wings and crawls forward 
winding its weak legs under the burden above — 

... its gunbarrel sting extended . . . 

indicate a latent poetic strength which the author has held 
in restraint in order to give full play to the action of his 
narrative. 

As an aspect of documentation in recent poetry it should 
be noted how well the poet assimilates his facts. Apparently 
he has gone directly to official records and other sources to 
learn the details of the robbery, police methods, the speech 
of gangsters, etc. However, he does not present these de- 
tails like a series of garrulous, didactic items in a document. 
That meliod would have seriously hampered his narrative. 
He has inventivdy refashioned his material, made fluent 
tiSe erf dipped, everyday speech to quid:en the pace of the 
stoty, and ntfli^ed fictional devices to arouse interest and 

[ 232 ] 



Armored Car Robbery 

suspense in the reader. The poem moves with the tempo of 
a fiction thriller. 

Although it is a narrative almost bare of nuance and 
simple and terse in its language, this book has a meaning 
which the author may or may not have wished to imply. 
It is the entertaining parable of a successful Jesse James, 
a big-time, twentieth century, triggered business man; a suc- 
cessful crook in a crooked society. If poetry in general were 
to approach the level of entertainment of The Day's Work, 
there might be some hope of diverting the book public’s in- 
terest from the Crime Book Clubs to sampling the thrillers 
of poetry. 

S. Funaroff 

ECHO ANSWERS 

Years End, by Josephine W. Johnson. Simon and Schuster. 

Here is an angry and rebellious book, religious in its 
intent with the sort of religion that inspired the prophet 
Isaiah. The cumulative effect of the volume is didactic, but 
there are in it many fine lyric passages and sharp images of 
a quality that suggests close familiarity with nature. The 
poems depend on this imagery and on intense emotion for 
their success ; they are singularly devoid of certain other in- 
gredients which we have learned to demand, such as sub- 
tlety of approach, understatement, delicacy of allusion and 
economy of phrase. Josephine Johnson can, on occasion^ be 
sparing of her words, but for the most part she uses ffiem 
like hammer blows to drive home her proposition. Both in 

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POETRY: A Magazine of Verse 


her method and her conclusion she resembles that son of 
Amoz who lived in the days of Ahaz and Hezekiah. 

Bring no more vain oblations; incense is an abomination unto me; 
the new moons and the sabbaths, the calling of assemblies, I can- 
not away with. When ye make many prayers I will not hear 
them; your hands are full of blood. 

That is Isaiah, and Year s End supplies the modern version: 

Cold Christ, Forgotten Christ. Lamp burning low in a fly-specked 
chimney; 

A monstrous wind of word spoke in Thy name and the world 
nodding, nodding . . . 

And the smell of the mausoleum under the fir and lilies. 

What have we done for our children? 

We have knitted little jackets for their new-born bodies, 

And we have knitted wool socks to keep them warm in the trenches, 
Gray-green socks on their skeleton feet 

And where the prophet predicts the coming of a host from 
afar to overthrow a sinfxil people, a host “whose arrows are 
sharp and all their bows bent, their horses’ hoofs shall be 
counted as flint and their wheels like a whirlwind”, Jose- 
phine Johnson says: 

Look down, look down, O little menl 

Listen. Lean down and hear 

Loud on the wind of death there comes 

Cry of the living mouths, the hard 

Pound of the living feet on stone, the strong 

Beat of the living drums in night, 

The parallel by no means ends here. It runs throughout 
Ihe book and is the more surprising because it is so obvi- 
ously unintended. It seems to be the result of a similar 
age, similar conditions and a similar quality of mind. Sym- 
padiy and an inspiring example will always do more to re* 


[ 234 ] 



Echo Answers 


form the world than anger and threats, but they are harder 
to achieve. The easiest way is to call down fire and brim- 
stone on the heads of the thoughtless (and sometimes help- 
less) offenders. Contemplation of this sort might mar the 
reader’s assimilation of Years End if it were not for the 
conviction that the poems spring from the sound roots of 
experience. No one who did not know poverty could have 
written this book. The intimate details are too starkly told. 

. . , their children squirm in shame, wearing old purple coats 
cut down 

From ragged velvet; stumbling on icy pavements in old opera 
shoes, 

Tying their stockings with a dirty string. 

The dole and the pension; the made Job and the forced Job; 
The basket with the red ribbon and the can of peaches. 

And now begins the winter wind, 

The long high whistling of the banshee voice 
The paper walls that flutter and the stove 
Hot in the face, and icy air 
Sliding around the blue-white feet 

These and other passages of similar sincerity wring our 
hearts and tie our hands, for if we cannot give old clothes 
and baskets to the poor, if we cannot acquiesce in the doje 
and the forced job, what are we, individually, to do? The 
answer, with which the book closes, is the answer of a 
mystic: 

There shall be no Kingdom and no Conomonwealdi, 

There shall be no classless state and no abundant life 
And there shall be no peace 

Until each of us shall have said 
‘qt is I, Lord, It is IF' 

[ 235 ] 


/. if. H, 



POETRY : A Magazine of Verse 


FUSION AND CONFUSION 

The Garden of Disorder and Other Poems ^ by Charles 

Henri Ford. Europa Press 

Christopher Columbus and Other Poems, by Sydney Salt. 

Bruce Humphries, Inc* 

It is regrettable to have to report of Ford's splendid vir- 
tuosity that it does nothing so well as seal him hermetically 
in Ford. “When the trees ride bicycles" is an intelligible 
enough line (and a representative example of this poet's 
method of rendering phenomena directly as experience) ; but 
others — ^‘^f the hunchback hinders the corn's turning yel- 
low" or “Perfume the dock, and the cricket will take care 
of Aunt Bess" — wrench things a bit too violently out of 
their dimension. The angle of refraction intelligibility will 
allow a poet in personalizing experience is debatable. Here, 
at any rate, it has been exceeded. 

These are all excerpts from the title poem, a kind of 
Phantasmagoria where the impressions of a profuse and 
phaotic material wbrld are presented in a dynamic succes- 
jsion of images, and “things" are rendered as psychic im- 
pacts. Ford’s technique is thus, in intention, j^ect — yet the 
total effect is devious. The poems are often brilliant in 
Wisjointed passages, but do not jell. Ford is dfficult even to 
an ear trained to receive images as he uses them — ^not to 
*Woke"; not “repr^entationally^’ ; but as subtly connota- 
tive elements in a context where tonal and pictorial values 
are carefully blended. Here is the first part of Left In* 
stantTy Designs: 


[ 236 ] 



Fusion and Confusion 


describe the circles 
first; terror 
will stay and 
the moon displace 

them and control 
the rain; 
then walk away 
in the ram*8 disgrace; 

the blood's obedience 
will follow 
instantly designs 
left in the sky's hollow; 

once fearful often 
each ear then 
accepts its 
rightful coffin • . , 

Images shuffled into such arbitrary juxtapositions as often 
as not miss the highly specialized responses at which they 
aim. This kind of thing is too vague for good surrealism; 
it recalls the Objectivists* exquisite weddings of image and 
cadence, their anxious polishing of “particulars.” 

Ford probably senses the shortcomings, as he certainly 
senses the hazards of his idiom. “Imagination’s cloak makes 
us invisible,” he says in the title poem. And “dilute the 
sadistic monopoly’s whirlpool that twisted the artist out of 
all recognition” — ^a proposition to which the reader, lost in a 
thicket of private associations, is quite ready to assent. To 
communicate the insanely delicate tones of awareness that 
offer themselves to the poetic impulse, it is hardly enough 
to set forth the associations and images that supply them 
in the personal experience, and then to polish these partio^ 
ular effects over and over. Ford’s work, indicative thrpu^- 

[ 237 ] 



POETRY: A Magazine of Verse 


out of strenuous technical application, suffers from his re- 
fusal to recognize that metaphor, to function, must be pred- 
icated on some reasonably clear referent in mutual experi- 
ence. It is surprising, therefore, to note his straightforward 
use of s3rmbolism in The Bull and the Butterfly, And 
The Jewelled Bat is a fine example of his ability to sustain 
heightened imagery. Both of these are from A Pamphlet 
of Sonnets, a collection yielding many rich and intense effects. 

However, it is in the group called Late Lyrics that he is 
most communicative, probably because a larger consciousness, 
a social consciousness, supervenes. Here there is less attempt 
to dissolve the world in private vision, and more to evaluate 
it. In such things as fVar and the excellent Plaint, we have 
stuff more comprehensible even as it is more comprehensive. 
The latter poem is subtitled Before a Mob of Ten Thousand 
at Owensboro, Ky* 

I, Rain«y Betha, 

from the top-branch of race-hatred look at you 
My limbs are bound, though boundless the bright sun 
like my bright blood which had to run 
into the or^ard that excluded me: 

DOW 1 climb death’s tree. 

The pruning-hooks of many mouths 
cht black-leaved bough?. 

The robins of my eyes hover where 

si^en leaves fall that were a prayer: ' 

sixteen mouths are open wide; 
the minutes like black berries 
dro^ from my shady sidev 

Oh who is the forester must tend such a tree, Lordi? 
l>o artels pick the cherry-blood of folk like roe, Lord? 

further development will be interesting to note. In 
this collhctidn he has grown better as he has broadened. 

[2383 



Fusion and Confusion 


The contents of Sydney Salt’s first volume of poems, 
Thirty Pieces, are all included in this new collection. The 
thing that arrested one in that volume was a concision more 
often than not attained by a deft play of imagery. Laconic, 
the poet etched his meaning in miniatures as sure as they 
were spare. He seemed to use a kind of picture writing, 
wherein a play of thought was suggested by images always 
adroitly in the service of concept. In lines like *'Now my 
forest of desire is the leaf of your smile” and “a stream 
smiling with ocean”, from a poem entitled To Death, the 
touch was sure. 

In his new poem, Christopher Columbus, Salt emerges 
into something far more ambitious. In Thirty Pieces he did 
try, with less success, a few characterizations — ^including 
apologies for Cain and Judas, the former striking a trenchant 
irony, but the latter falling in execution far short of the 
profound spiritual paradox it tried to elucidate. In Chris- 
topher Columbus, however, not only is the characterization 
understandingly brought off, but there is an occasional pitch 
of lyric expression to which Salt’s early poems cannot be 
compared. Columbus is made alive, brought down out of 
the sublimities and absurdities of legend, a lonely dreamer 
despairing no less than hoping, plagued by misgiving as mudi 
as nourished on vision, an adventurer with ‘‘that wild knot 
in the bosom — ^the lives of men tp stain the silk dorib of 
my deam.” 

It is interesting, in view of what has been said of the 
author’s earlier work, to notice how Salt handles the dimax 

[ 239 ] 



POETRY: A Magazine of Verse 


of his poem, the landing: 

The natives received us, 
nude and poised as sculptures. 

Here was the generous and early color of man. 

They stood before us in sweet air, 
in sweet light engraved. 

We were happy as lost children, 

these figures of earth silent, immortal witness — 

could there be greater hospitality? 

We fell on our knees and gave thanks to the Lord, 
our voices white, white — 

Soon, our visit would be over 
our voices turn red? 

This is extremely quiet writing to climax the emotion, 
the anticipation, the high lyric affirmations which have gone 
before; but it is effective because the poet has fallen back 
on the cameo technique in which he has trained himself. As 
•poetry it is undeniably touching, a successful fusion of 
thought and s3miboL And in the poem itself the reigning 
in of pace is as effective as it is abrupt — ^a moment of abso- 
lute and quiet vision, the dreamer’s intuition, the prophet’s 
reverence. Its reticente is its strongest quality. 

Christopher Columbus is almost the only new piece in this 
new collection, but it gives evidence of a marked advance. 

P. DeV. 

NEWS NOTES 


Since Vjrord got abroad that we were planning the present issue, 
boA The ffevj Republic and The Ne*w Masses have devoted 
special sections to work by members of the Writers’ Project, and 
wc are told that one pf the large publishing firms expects to bring 
out an anthology of WPA poets. This is all to the good— how- 
ler, all this must remain an empty gesture unless it results in 
more adequate recognition of the poets and in an intelligent use 

[ 240 ] 



News Notes 


of the great cultural force they represent. For while we agree 
that the writing of good books about our states “represents as 
much creative effort as the writing of short stories^ poems, etc.,^' 
it is nevertheless a fact that, whereas the Theatre and Art Projects 
have had theatres and galleries in which to show their work, the 
poets, those who have gained proficiency in the highest literary 
art, have in most instances been given neither the time nor the 
opportunity for employing their special talent To create the 
assignments and media which will release that talent in the fullest 
measure and guide it into the most effective channels will be any> 
thing but an easy task. Yet it can be done, it is eminently worth 
doing, and the Arts Projects administration has not shown itself 
afraid of difficulties. 

Though this Federal Poets’ Number is the most comprehensive 
collection of its kind yet published, it is by no means complete. 
Some poets could not be reached in time, since their connection 
with the Writers* Project had not been generally announced, or 
at least was not known to either Willard Maas or ourselves. 
Others, because of previous commitments, had no unpublished 
work available. Moreover, an attempt has been made to avoid 
including too many poems from any one region; so that the choice 
of material has been necessarily, in some degree, arbitrary. The 
addition of sixteen pages to our format has proved but a slight 
advantage, and the amount of good work submitted makes us 
wish that we had an issue at least twice the ordinary size to 
devote to it. It should also be pointed out that several well-known 
poets are represented with brief single entries, by their own 
preference, in order that ihore space may be given to younger 
writers. 

We are glad to announce that John Peale Bishop will contribute 
to our next issue a critical review of the present Federal t*oets* 
Numbet. This will include a consideration of the other collect- 
tions and anthologies of Project writers, “an investigation of the 
character of the work of the new generation, and an inquiry into 
the value of government support of the poet^** 

The Harriet Monroe Library of Modern Poetry has been offi- 
cially dedicated at the University of Chicago, and a two 

months* period of cataloguing will be open daily to studenta and 
visitors. Occupying a room in one of the finest of the university 
buildings, the collection consists of about 2300 books, together 
with the complete file of poets* letters and manuscripts accumulated 

[ 241 ] 



POETRY : J Magazine of Verse 


during the first twenty-four years of Poetry. The books are for 
the most part those which were considered worth reviewing and 
keeping on shelves in the office. Nearly all are first editions, and 
many are signed by the authors. They represent only a small 
proportion of the number of volumes sent in; the collection is 
therefore a selective one, reflecting the critical standards of the 
magazine. That this ^library of modern poetry” may continue to 
deserve its title, an anonymous benefactor has provided a fund 
of five thousand dollars, the interest from which will be devoted 
in perpetuity to the purchase of new books of verse. 

It was foitunate that the task of transferring, housing and 
arranging the collection should have been undertaken personally 
by Dr. M. Llewellyn Raney, Director of the University Libraries, 
one who has a keen and sympathetic appreciation of contemporary 
literature. No more attractive setting could have been found than 
the room provided in Wieboldt Hall. This room contains shelves 
which are capable of holding several times the present number 
of books, and there are also special display cases for letters and 
manuscripts. Surmounting the shelves on one wall is a replica of 
the bronze tablet which has been placed on the grave in the Andes, 
bearing the inscription: 

HARRIET MONROE 
POET 

FRIEND OF POETS 

BORN CHICAGO — DECEMBER 23, 1S60 
DIED AREQUIPA — SEPTEMBER 2S, 1936 
Here, in this large bright room overlooking the Midway, poets 
and poetry have been given literally **a place in the sun.” 

The dedication took place at an informal dinner on the evening 
of May 24, given by the Friends of the Library in Hutchinson 
Commons. Lloyd Lewis presided, and Sterling North introduced 
the speakers. The collection was presented by the editor in behalf 
of Poetry and accepted by Vice President Woodward of the Uni- 
versity. Gail Sandburg spoke in memory of Harriet Monroe, 
recalling ^^a slight woman physically, a little frame but a ver;^ 
pecuBar poyv^fM. The years passed and in a certain sense she was 
a house of man3^ doors — all humanity could come in. She ha^d gn 
a^halntance with many very real poets, some of whom the hand 
of the potter^ shopk in the making. She knew where they l^iad 
ctcfted realises and «he heeatne familiar with where they n^^rged 
pd madness, a^ she loved them f6r all of that She had some- 
thing that swangnly catholic character Charles Lamb had.” 

[ 242 ] 



News Notes 


Ford Madox Ford, also speaking in a vein of reminiscence, 
brought tribute from poets abroad, and concluded; “The passing 
of Miss Monroe’s splendidly obstinate and determined figure has, 
I can assure you, left a sense of loneliness to many poets, and it is 
a sense of loneliness that will not too soon be dissipated.” 

The main address of the evening was given by Archibald 
MacLeish. This was in substance the essay it is our piivilege to 
include in the present issue. When MacLeish finished, the great 
audience rose to its feet in spontaneous tribute. His speech, 
delivered with ringing eflFectivcness, was later characterized in 
The Courier as “one of the high moments in the history of the 
University.” After the long applause had subsided, Dr, Raney 
read messages from poets on bodi sides of the Atlantic. An im- 
pressive conclusion to the program was supplied by William S, 
Monroe, well-known engineer and brother of Poetry's founder, who 
stepped forward to read a clause from Harriet Monroe’s will 
relating to the establishment of a five-thousand dollar prize fund. 
The award will be made to an “American poet of distinction, or 
of distinguished promise” whenever the interest from this fund 
accumulates to five hundred dollars. The jury will consist of 
three poets, preferably from different parts of the country, to be 
appointed by the president of the University; and the will specifies 
that “in making awards the committee shall give preference to 
poets of progressive rather than academic tendencies.” 

NOTES ON CONTRIBUTORS 

KENJIETH EEARJLNG, of New York, is a leading figure in the new 
poetry movement. He appeared for the first time in PoETRiy 3n 
1927, and is the author of two books of verse, Angel Arms and 
Poems, A new volume of his work will be published in idte faM 
by Random House. 

wn-LARD MAAS, who served as an auxiliary editor for thi^ 
is tie author of Ptre Testament apd a frequent contributor ^ 
periodicals. A new book of his poems, Concerning the 'Jou^g^ is 
announced by Farrar and Rinehart He lives in New YorJt 

DOROTHY VAN GHENT js working for her doctorate at ^e Univer- 
sity of California. She has contributed poetry and crithnsiin to 
The Nevf Masses, The Southern Review, Poetry, etc. 

ALFRED HAYES, onc of the outstanding younger poeta^ on^the 
staff of the Living Newspaper Theatre aqd has appeared in varjpt|a 

[ 243 ] 



POETRY : J Magazine of Verse 


magazines and anthologies. With Leon Alexander he dramatized 
Erskine CaldwelPs Journeymen, which was produced on Broadway 
last season. 

RAYMOND E. F. LARSSON^ since writing the poem in this issue, has 
left the San Francisco Writers* Project to become a newspaper 
editor in Clearwater, Fla. He is the author of several books, 
including 0 City, Cities/, and has just completed a long *‘ballet 
in verse” which he is adapting for radio. 

WILLIAM PILLIN, a prominent younger poet and the recipient of 
our 1937 Jeannette Sewell Davis Prize, is at present a member of 
the New Mexico Writers* Project, living on a farm at Santa Cruz. 

MARK TURBYFiLL, of Chicago, needs no introduction. He is the 
author of several books of poems, including A Marriage with 
Space, and in 1926 received our award of honor, the Helen Haire 
Levinson Prize. 

JAMES DALY was on the Writers* Project in San Francisco when 
the poem in this issue was written, but has now returned to New 
York. He is the author of two highly praised books of verse, 
The Guilty Sun and One Season Shattered. His group of poems 
in our March issue won enthusiastic comment from readers. 

HELEN NEVILLE, of New York, has appeared in many magazines, 
including Poetry, The Nation, The New Republic, Partisan 
Review, etc. 

MIRIAM ALLEN DEFORD, of San Francisco, is well known as a con- 
tributor to magazines, and as the author of several biographies. 
She has appeared often in Poetry since 1915. 

HAROLD ROSENBERG was editor of the ‘‘American Stuff** issue of 
Direction, His verse and criticism have been published widely. 

K FtiNAROFF, also familiar to our readers, is the author of The 
Spider and the Clock, announced for publication by International. 
He has been doing motion picture research work on the New York 
Writers* Project 

VIROIL GEDDp^ well-known as poet and playwright, is a member 
of the editorial staff of the Writers* Project in the Washington 
office. He has appeared before in Poetry and is the author of 
two volumes, Forty Poems and Poems 4J-S0. 

HARRY ROSKOLENKO, of the New York Project, has contributed to 
American Stuff, Poetry, Pagany, etc., Rnd was represented in The 
Beet Poems of 193T, edited by Thomas Moult 

MARGARET WALKE^ a young Chicago writer and graduate of 
Northwestern, yfun introduced to our readers last November. She 
iis now wridng a novel based on Negro folk-lore. 

im 



Notes on Contributors 


KENNETH REXROTH, of San Francisco, is one of the best known 
of the “Objectivist** poets. He has appeared frequently in The 
Ne<w Republic, The New Masses, etc., as well as in Poetry. 

CHARLOTTE WILDER^ now resident in New York, was for six years 
associate professor of English at Smith College. She is the author 
of a book of poems, Phases of the Moon, and in 1936 was co- 
recipient with Ben Belitt of the Shelley Memorial Award. 

H. R. HAYS, also of New York, has appeared several times here 
as poet and critic. He is the author of a play in verse, The 
Ballad of David Crockett, a new production of which is being 
planned by Burgess Meredith. 

LOLA PERGAMENT was bom in New York City, attended Wash- 
ington University in St. Louis, and now lives in Atlanta, Ga. She 
has published in many magazines, including Poetry. 

SEYMOUR GORDOEN LINK, another familiar contributor, has had a 
varied career as teacher, editor, and journalist. He is at present 
a supervisor on the Nashville, Tenn., Writers’ Project. 

The following poets honor our pages for the first time: 

WELDON KEES, DOW living in Denver, was for fourteen months 
an editor on the Nebraska Writers’ Project. He served on the 
staflF of Midwest and has contributed verse, stories, and criticism 
to periodicals. 

STERLING A. BROWN, now on leave from Howard University, is 
serving as editor on Negro affairs for the Writers’ Project in his 
native city of Washington. He is the author of The Negro in 
American Fiction, Negro Poetry and Drama, and of a book of 
verse, Southern Road, published by Harcourt, Brace & Co. His 
poem in this issue will be included in a forthcoming second book, 
No Hiding Place* 

MELVIN G. SHELLEY is a supervisor on the New York Writers* 
Project. He has contributed criticism to Creative Art and verse 
to Transition, His first volume, Mr, Silver and Other Early 
Poems f will soon be published. 

CHARLES HUDEBURG moved recently from Tennessee to New 
York. He was one of the poets included in Trial Balances, and 
has appeared in The Nation, Barper^s Bazaar, Alestis, etc. 

NORTON KRIEGER, DOW employed on the Chicago Writers’ Project, 
was born in South Dakota and spent his high school and univer- 
sity years in California. 

LAWRENCE ESTAVAN is a native of Louisiana living in San Fran- 
cisco. He worked for nine years on the staff of The Chronicle, 
joined the Writers’ Project in 1935 as editor of the Sain Francisco 

[2451 



POETRY : A Magazine of Verse 


Guide, and is now supervisor of the Theatre Research Project. 

With the exception of Mr. Maas and Mr. Funaroff, none of this 
month’s prose contributors are Writers’ Project members, though 
ALFRED KREYMBORG held au administrative position for several 
years on the Federal Theatre Project He is the author of many 
books and plays, including the recent full-length radio verse 
drama, The Planets, which was broadcast over the NBC network 
on June 6th. An introduction is equally unnecessary for Archibald 
MACLEISH, whom many consider the most gifted poet of his genera- 
tion. His latest volume is the stirring Land of the Free, a book 
of photographs with a ^^sound track” of poetry. Malcolm cowley, 
an editor of The New Republic and author of the widely-known 
memoir, Ex%le*s Return, has come of recent years to be known 
chiefly as a critic and commentator. He is, however, the author of 
an important book of poems, Blue Juniata, published in 1929 by 
Cape and Smith, john wheelwright, of Boston, is a well-known 
contributor of verse and criticism to Poetry and other periodicals. 
He conducts the ^Toetry Noon” program over WORL, on Mon- 
days at 12:15 P. M. His novel in sonnets. Mirrors of Venus, will 
soon be published by Bruce Humphries. 

BOOKS RECEIVED 

ORIGINAL verse: 

The RUfer, by Pare Lorentz. Stackpole Sons, New York. 

New Poems, by W. H. Davies. Bruce Humphries. 

Full circle, by Carla Lanyon Lanyon. Shakespeare Head Press, 
Oxfotdi England. 

Fair Caf^ve, by Angela Marco. Stephen Daye Press, Brattleboro, 
Vermont 

Characters m Cadence, by Louise Morey Bowman. Macmillan Co., 
Toronto. 

T he Rinff and the Tree, by Sylvester Baxter. Bruce Humphries. 

Le Pohme de Vdtlantique, by Arm^^id Godoy, Editions Bernard 
Grasset, Paris. 
feose: 

The W orid at Mp Shoulder, by Eunice Tietjens. Macmillan. 
MnaloMiPs ^Musical Poet, Thomas Campioin, by Miles Mcrwin 
Kastehdi^ck^ 0!xford tlniycrsity Ptess^ 

pieinjaaping books will be listed next njontihuJ 

[ 246 ] 



“To look at the actual world and say what 

poetry is native to the actual world“ 

— Archibald MacLeish 


Poetry will continue to publish the work of well-known 
established poets as well as the most interesting younger 
writers on and off the Project. 


Watch for new poems by Robert Frost, Edna St Vincent Millay, 
Carl Sandburg, W. H. Auden. Be among the first to see outstand- 
ing new work by Dylan Thomas, C. F. MacIntyre, Jesse Stuart, 
Abbie Huston Evans, D. S. Savage, Belle Turnbull, Harold Rosen- 
berg, James Daly, Julian Symons, Rolfe Humphries, Babette 
Deutsch, Mary Barnard, Marshall Schacht, Marion Strobel, 
William Pillin, Theodore Roethke, Harry Brown, Josephine 
Johnson, Parker Tyler, May Lewis, Oscar Williams, Elizabeth 
Bohm, Norman Macleod, Martha Millet, and others. 

Read and discuss the following important prose features: 


Kenneth Burke: A Review of John Crowe Ransom’s The 
World*! Body 

Ezra Pound: An Essay on Poetry and Musical Form 

Lawrence Leighton: A Review of Empson’s English Pas- 
toral Poetry 

Yvor Winters: A Revaluation of the English Lyric (In 
Two Parts) 

Gladys Campbell: An Essay on Image and Thought in 
the Lyric 

S. I. Hayakawa: An Article on E. E. Cummings 

Samuel French Morse: Reviews of Spender, MacNeice, 
and Prokosch 


N* B* POETRY for August will contain a critical review of the 
present Federal Poets’ Number, together with a considera4on of 
the other special coUecdons and anthologies of WPA writers, by 
John Peale Bishop. 

$3 a Tear 


232 EAST ERIE STREET^ CHICAGO, BUL 


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appearing in September, will continue the tradition of 
its predecessor. Passion and indignation will again find 
expression in its pages; crude vigor will again be pre- 
ferred to polished banality. We are confident that a 
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established periodicals because of the boldness of their 
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William FAULKf^: E<hia FERBER: Ernest HEMINGWAY: 
Lawton HUGHES: HUMPHRIES: Alfred KREYM- 

BGRGt Howard LAWSON: Edgar Lee MASTERS: Kath- 
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VoL LII 26 th Year of Publication No. V 


POETRY for AUGUST 1938 

Four Poems I-IV ...... . Dylan Thomas 

Three Poems .... Babette Deutsch 

Midsummer Night — ^Truro Hour — ^At the Cape 

Song for a Night Carl Edwin Barklund 

The Whale Terence Heywood 

Two Poems . , James Boothe 

Having Talked with Men — ^Within the Houses, Love 

Homer Walter Lowenfels 

Four Poems Mary Barnard 

Storm — ^Remarks on Poetry and the Physical World — 
The Tears of Princesses — Provincial 11 

These Are Also Living Carlos Bulosan 

Four Poems Joseph Joel Keith 

To Rise — Of One Unwed — ^The Sister of Witches — 

The Farmer 

Two Poems Vincent Starr ett 

Hell, Said the Duchess — ^To Wicky: My Wire 

Misguided Frederick Mortimer Clapp 

Nantucket Sojourn . . ... Mary Finette Barber 

Returning — Survivals 

Three Poems John Russell McCarthy 

O Idiot Heart — Have No Fear — Friendship Broken 
It Stopped Ticking ....... Margery Mansfield 

Bather Sleeping James E, Warren, Jr, 

Sunken Realms I-II ..... . Edgar Lee Masters 

The Federal Poets’ Number . . . John Peale Bishop 

Is Indeed 5 . ^ . S, L Hayakawa 

Reviews : 

Prophecy and Fact Samuel Morse French 

An Intellectual Poet Ruth Lechltiner 

Two Anthologies Arthur Meeker, Jr, 

News Notes . 

Notes on Contributors 

Books Received 


247 

250 

252 

253 

254 

255 
255 


259 

260 


262 

265 

266 

26S 

270 

271 

272 
276 
284 

292 

297 

299 

302 

304 

306 


The Pegasus on the Cover by Eric Gill 

Published monthly Editorial and Publication Offices. 232 East Erie Sixeet. 
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All rights reserved 




POETRY 

A MAGAZINE OF VERSE 

VOL. Lll NO. V 

AUGUST 1938 


FOUR POEMS 


W HEN all my five and country senses see, 

The fingers will forget green thumbs and mark 
How through the halfmoon^s vegetable eye 
In the ten planted towers of their stalk 
Love in the frost is pared and wintered by, 

The whispering ears will watch love drummed away 
Down wind and shell to a discordant beach, 

And, lashed to syllables, the eyed tongue talk 
How her sweet wounds axe mended bitterly. 

My nostrils see her breath burn like a bush. 

My one and noble heart has witnesses 

In all love’s countries, that will watch awake; 

And when blind sleep falls on the spying senses, 

The heart is sensual, though five eyes break; 

[ 247 ] 



POETRY : A Magazine of Verse 


II 

O make me a mask and a wall to shut from your spies 
Of the sharp, enamelled eyes and the spectacled claws 
Rape and rebellion in the nurseries of my face, 

Gag of a dumbstruck tree to block from bare enemies 
The bayonet tongue in this undefended prayerpiece, 

The present mouth, and the sweetly blown trumpet of lies, 
Shaped in old armor and oak the countenance of a dunce 
To shield the glistening brain and blunt the examiners, 
And a tear-stained widower grief drooped from the lashes 
To veil belladonna and let the dry eyes perceive 
Others betray the lamenting lies of their losses 
By the curve of the nude mouth or the laugh up the sleeve. 


Ill 

Not from this anger, anticlimax after 
Refusal struck her loins and the lame flower 
Bent like a beast to lap the singular floods 
In a land without weather, 

Shall she receive a bellyful! of weeds 
And bear those tendril hands I touch across 
The agonised, two seas. 

Behind my head a square of sky sags over 
The circular smile tossed from lover to lover 

[ 248 ] 



Dylan Thomas 


And the golden ball spins out of the skies; 

Not from this anger after 

Refusal struck like a bell under water 

Shall her smile breed that mouth, behind the mirror, 

That burns along my eyes. 


IV 

The spire cranes. Its statue is an aviary. 

From the stone nest it does not let the feathery 
Carved birds blunt their striking throats on the salt gravel, 
Pierce the spilt sky with diving wing in weed and heel 
An inch in froth. Chimes cheat the prison spire, pelter 
In time like outlaw rains on that priest, water, 

Time for the swimmers’ hands, music for silver lock 
And mouth. Both note and plume plunge from the spire’s 
hook. 

Those craning birds are choice for you, songs that jump back 
To the built voice, or fly with winter to the bells, 

But do not travel down dumb wind like prodigals. 

Dylan Thomas 


[ 249 ] 



POETRY: A Magazine of Verse 


THREE POEMS 

MIDSUMMER NIGHT 

Midnight, and a tigerish sky 
In whose wild wide lovely flank 
Throbbed one planet and the moon: 

Two golden holes, two wounds gone dry. 
Not of these would the night die 
That ranged so beautiful and rank 
Above us. Yet it must die soon. 

Gone, it cannot shine again. 

The dark bright fleece will heave no more. 
Scattered, beyond human chart. 

Nor ragged stripe nor spark remain 
Of all that glory and that pain. 

Can a dead night And daws to score 
The living heart? 


TRURO HOUR 

Carved by the silence, dean as rock 
The moors lie open to the sky. 

Each bearded dune stands like a stock 
In csarly nudity. 

No shadow stirs, to crack the spell 
Cast by the heat upon this waste 

[ 250 ] 



Babette Deutsch 


That shows the candor of a shell 
To heavens as bare, as chaste. 

Alone coarse beach-grass, shaggy pine 
Find sea-grudged root beneath the sand, 
And stubborn as the wind, define 
The salt lagoon from the salt land. 
White as the surf, white as the sun, 
The cottages cling sleepily 
Each to its hillock, one and one, 

Like sea-fed gulls beside the sea. 
Between its knees this naked place 
Holds the strange peace that is assured 
To those who smile in their embrace 
At violence dreaded or endured. 


AT THE CAPE 

Why should eyes used to moving 
Along the printed page, or down 
Anonymous black streets. 

Rest on this place? 

What love, clean of man^s grieving, 

Is featured in the sand’s blank mobile face? 
What solace springs from rage 
Embraced by hunch-backed trees? 

Now all is hot and still 

As though the sim had withered the sea-wind, 

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POETRY : A Magazine of Verse 


And the vague sky gone blind. 

A peace no page can teach, 

Unrcached by the crowd’s hate, 

Shines from this shore. 

So, once, a wayfarer, 

Sea-stripped, basked in the sun. 

Deep in his briny beard 
He smiled at fate. 

Bahette Deutsch 


SONG FOR A NIGHT 

Lover of beauty in an hour 
Of cold night dew and colder star, 

Watching the evil dark devour 
All that you longed for, all you are — 

When shall the lark again betray 
The impulse quickening at the heart, 

The joy no other lips could say. 

It was so shining and apart? 

Better to lie with stricken breath 
Deep in a darkness without end 
Than walk so steadfastly with death 
One can but treat it as a friend. 

Carl Edwin Burklund 


( 252 ] 



THE WHALE 


The spirit of a man should never fail, 

But, like the whale 

Who at the shark’s assault swallows her young, 

Should rescue its convictions ; she’ll then sail 
Statelily in tempestuous waters, all among 
Her foes, until where peace is 
Her paunch-protected children she releases. 

Nor does the whale despair when from a distance 
She sees a feeble flopping on the beach 
And knows it is her child. She brings assistance, 
Spouting unstinted volumes when at reach, 

And down the child will slide 
(A stranded hulk refloated by the tide), 

To find again a shelter by the mother’s side. 

And when at last. 

Worried by shoals, herself has run aground, 

The savage mob dischunk her all around, 

Leaving the ruined fabric of that vast 
Vault to the eager builders. 

But, they say, 

In houses of whalebone 
No dreams have they 

Save of perpetual drowning to a low moan. 

Terence HepwQod 


[ 253 ] 



POETRY : A Magazine of Verse 


TWO POEMS 

HAVING TALKED WITH MEN 

Having talked with men from everywhere, 

I cannot say what brings them to this town. 
They walk the streets, are hungry for an hour, 
and stay or leave, according to the man. 

They answer midnight with a question, knowing 
the question of reply before they bow 
or shrug the answer, tacitly allowing 
to be what will be, inevitable and slow. 

Carelessly they so preserve the dream 
that whoever will may find here in a glass. 

They know who they are, perhaps, but who I am 
or what I cannot tell, save one of these. 


WITHIN THE HOUSES^ LOVE 

This was an afternoon of simple music 
and intricate attitudeis that coqld be struck 
when following the street or the prosaic 
falling of an angl^ of our luck. 

Life lurked in the most expected places, 
wherever the bar held empty seats; desire 

{2541 



James Boothe 


was obviously grown bright within the houses 
till midnight fell in the gutter, love for hire. 

The pornographic landscape was not clear, 
was dimly read and never understood 
beyond the occasional closing of a door 
and darkening of a window. Life was good 
and so remains — ^we seek it anywhere. 

James Boothe 


HOMER 

You look over the human sea, out and back as far as 
you can, and you reach the first poet, the last poet of the 
other side of the page — Homer, who wrote the last poem 
of someone arriving at where he ought to be. Odysseus 
set out from Troy to find his way home. And he arrived. 
He came. Twenty years it took, and the poet could have 
dropped him anywhere en route, among the Sirens, or in 
the witch’s cave. But he followed him over all the human 
and inhuman seas, until he walked into the hall where the 
suitors sat before his wife Penelope, the last poem of the 
last poet who brought the poem to its human home, and the 
first poet to be. 

Walter Lowenfels 


[ 255 ] 



POETRY : A Magazine of Verse 


FOUR POEMS 

STORM 

A vessel is breaking in half under the headland. 

The ocean is swollen with storm and the lives 
Of the drowned men. Foam drawn over them. 

Above my left eye a pain burrows. 

Conspirator, awaiting dangerous weather, 

If I were there, you would be suffocation, 

Pain and the ocean obliterating each other. 

The radio brings Bach from Philadelphia. 

Closer within than sickness and outside death, 

The well-plumed music drives beyond the lighthouses 
Toward the extreme coastland — 

dxtdv jcpog eoji^pou ffeov. 

On our beaches 

Dead sea birds under yellow curds of foam. 


REMARKS ON POETRY AKD THE PHYSICAL WORLD 

After reading Ash PVednesday 
She looked once at the baked beans 
And fled. Luncheonless, poor girl. 

She observed a kind of poetic Lent — ► 

[ 256 ] 



Mar^ Barnard 


And I had thought I liked poetry 
Better than she did. 

I do. But to me its most endearing 
Quality is its unsuitableness; 

And, conversely, the chief wonder in heaven 
(Whither I also am sometimes transported) 

Is the kind of baggage I bring with me. 

Surely there is no more exquisite jointure 
In the anatomy of life, than that at which 
The poem dovetails with the inevitable meal 
And Mrs. B. sits murmuring of avocados. 


THE TEARS OF PRINCESSES 

The tears of princesses were cool as rain. 

They wept purely into their imbound hair. 

Tears were ornaments to be hung 
At the pale eyelid like jewels 
At the coral lobe of the ear. 

Princesses had long beautiful names 
And they always cried with perfect reasonableness 
For lasting sorrow or bloody-hilted 
, Abhorrent wickedness 
Presented at the unguarded breast. 

[ 257 ] 



THESE ARE ALSO LIVING 


After the dreary walk and the tinsel city 
That thrusts its tongue hollowly into the night; 

After the crowded streets and the tenement houses, 
Where the lost and the dying flash mocking eyes 
With indelicate movements, waiting for death; 

After the flight of water-soaked steps and dark halls, 
The uneven door and the cold room above the stairs, 
The anger in your face settles down — suddenly — 

Your lips tremble as we look into the street below, 
Where hungry men are passing into the night, moving 
Close to the buildings for warmth and comfort. 

These are also living men, thrown as we are thrown 
Into the troubled room of earth, crying for bread. 

Their continuous procession into the dark streets 
Lifts a stabbing arrow of pity, striking your eyes, 
Pushing a nervous wave through your rain-soaked body. 
Why are you sobbing profusely? We too are hungry. 

Carlas Bulosan 


[ 259 ] 



POETRY : A Magazine of Verse 


FOUR POEMS 

TO RISE 

The heart knows more 
than the mind can tell. 

It sings itself 
out of a well, 

where it has fought 
in bogs of doubt. 

It hears wings beat, 
lets itself out. 

What dares to sing 
without words, has power 
to rise like hope, 
faith, sun, and flower. 


OF ONE UNWED 

Her coming is a shadow, 
beautiful and still, 
light as dawn creeping 
over the hill. 

Her passing is an early 
violet that leaves 

[ 260 ] 



earth and air fuller. 
Love alone grieves 


Joseph Joel Keith 


for singing that is singing 
of one unwed. 

Lord, must he remember 
that she is dead? 


THE SISTER OF WITCHES 

Though words are witches’ tongues, they do 
not lash as hers whom hell has sent : 
the evil wench of silence who 
is cruel, cold, and eloquent. 


THE FARMER 

The farmer fills his pipe and lights it. 

His dinner was good; he frees the belt-buckle. 
He sees the colt race with its mother. 

He sees the calf suckle. 

The farmer knocks out burnt tobacco. 

He puts a cold cup to his mouth. 

He cuts another path with Dobbin; 
forgets last summer’s drouth. 


[ 261 ] 


Joseph Joel Keith 



POETRY : A Magazine of Verse 


TWO POEMS 

HELL^ SAID THE DUCHESS 

Hell, said the Duchess, and her voice was hard, 
What’s the world coming to, I’d like to know? 
Mutton is up a penny, rents are slow, 

Butter’s so dear we’ll soon be using lard. 
Months have elapsed since I have held a card 
Higher than six .or seven ; and my toe 
Is sticking through my stocking. What I owe 
Causes them sleepless nights at Scotland Yard, 

Politics gives me twinges in the head ; 

Half of the world is bellowing for war, 

And half is — ^Well, at least here comes the tea. 
Just one more rubber, then a spot of bed : 

I can’t think when I’ve had so poor a score — 
And you, sir, take your hand from o£E my knee ! 


TO wicky: my wire 

Where the dog goes there go I; 
To the laurel bush we hie, 

To the elm and maple tree, 

To the oak, with bel-esfrit. 

Fall and summer, airily; 

[ 262 ] 



Vincent Starrett 


Airily, merrily do we skip now 

Under the blossom that hangs on the bough. 


Grove and coppice we espy: 

To the greenwood grass we fly, 
Thicket, spinney, scrub and fern, 
This way — ^that way — see us turn! 
What’s the difference to him? 

Life’s a dog’s life, life’s a whim, 
Under the blossom-laden limb. 

Willow, chestnut, poplar, beech: 
Stout lad I lead the way to each, 
While I follow, follow, follow, 

Like a wheeling, reeling swallow. 
Fate’s a fiddler, life’s a dance, 

Life’s a trail of circumstance. 

Life’s a timber-strewn expanse. 

Ash and aspen, birch and pine, 
Sapling, creeper, bush and vine; 
Park and pasture, furze and brake, 
Our appointed way we take : 
Morning, noontide, and at night. 
With dispatch and with delight, 
These our duties we recite. 

Trxmk to trunk and bole to bole. 
And the last tree is our goal. 


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POETRY : A Magazine of Verse 


This is life, lad — c'esi la vie I — 

Searching out the final tree. 

Where you stand and misdemeanor 
Blossoms thrive and grass grows greener, 

And the very air is keener. 

Ave, Wick, three-legged dog, 

Tilted now beside your log! 

Time and change can nothing show 
That you don*t already know. 

All the wisdom of the past 
And the future comes at last 
Back to earth,* and, by the rood, 

I admire your attitude! 

Vincent Starrett 


[ 264 ] 



MISGUIDED 


Forced down by Time in nose-spins of activity — 
a moral obligation reconditioned as nerve-spasuk— 
he lost the larger rhythm of things that could be 
and dropped the future into the sick past’s chasm. 

The blown mist of his hollow outside world 
froze ferny crystal creepings on his vision 
and, as the tentacle ends of his mind incurlcd, 
discounted his reality’s excision. 

So, through successive swift vacuities 
he sought to sting with labor into fact, 
he came to death as one that fights yet flees, 
because of what he did not know he lacked. 

Frederick Mortimer Clapp 


[ 265 ] 



POETRY : A Magazine of Verse 


NANTUCKET SOJOURN 

RETURNING 

Surely so sweet a land will call to us 
Over and over in years to come, but you 
Say no, there are so many places to visit. 

You never return — so many islands even — 

Bermuda, Sea Island, Catalina, Hawaii. 

That is the difiEerence between us. I shall come back, 

Pick wild flowers on the moors, and watch the shore birds 
Chasing the last wave, fleeing before the next. 

I shall walk the single path along the bluff, 

And missing you ahead, fancy you follow. 

I shall sit beneath the lighthouse, when the beams 
Whirl over sounding chaos, straining to hear 
Your words above the wind, but they will be lost. 

I am always turning back, trying to catch 
A bird already in the blue, to pluck 
The petal freshly fallen. Well I know 
Nothing can be recaptured, it is waste 
To make a pilgrimage while there remains 
An exploration; but I am bride to Lot — 

I must have my backward look though the heart is salt. 
This is but one in a sea of many islands : 

Only the foolish steer to one light, the wise 
Hail it and pass. You will be sighting always 
Your brighter land ahoy, while I am swinging 
Idle at anchor in this gray port we loved. 

[ 266 ] 



Mary Finetfe Barber 


SURVIVALS 

It is a wonder anything at all 

Can bear this rhythmic weight of wind and sea. 

Whatever does, has wrought its own defenses. 

The swallows parry with keen blades, the gulls 
Match it with motion, wing for wave, and creak 
To its own raucous cry. Thistles endure, 

Moor scrub with hard red berries, Queen Anne’s lace 
And any thin-stemmed blossom that lies prone 
Beneath the wind’s will when it has its way,— 

And men with heart to spend their bridal nights 
In the new house built with a ‘‘widow’s walk” 

Already on the roof, and sail at dawn 
Because the clamorous passion of the sea 
Cries louder and lasts longer — ^bony men 
With wind-seamed faces and dim eyes that seek 
Horizons still. Nantucket has its old— 

Houses and men — ^and it has many women 
Who have no cause again to shade their eyes 
On wharf or widow’s walk, but keep within 
The tight grey houses set with bric-a-brac. 

“Martha crotcheted that doily; William brought 
This china Boy-Blue home from his last sail — 

His next to last.” How can so small a thing 
Quiet the heart against this bombing wind, 

This cannonade of surf pounding ashore 
Tidings they will not lift a pane to hear? 

Mary Finette Barber 


[ 267 ] 



POETRY : A Magazine of Verse 


THREE POEMS 

0 IDIOT HEART 

These fish devouring fish devouring fish, 

These birds engorging birds, beasts Klling beasts, 
These worms that ravage the living and the dead, 
These visionless innumerable fangs 
That throng air, sea, flesh, very rock, 

These should rebuke your imbecile delight. 

These men maddened with tasteless gold, these races 
Furied with fear, these nations frothing and poisoned 
With hate, this acme of life deadlier than all, 

Crueller than any beneath, these drip despair. 

O idiot heart, to hide behind desire 

And sing of pool-eyed love, soft-fingered peace 


HAVE NO FEAR 

Have no fear, beloved, 

Tbe world is fair and good ; 
None will crush your mind if it 
Be hollow^ as? it should ; 

None? will eyer tear your heart 
Unless it harbor blood. 


[ 268 ] 



John Russell McCarthy 


When the chase is over 
And the dust is red 
One will live forever, 

White and garlanded, 

In the hearts of two or three, 
Not yet quite dead. 


FRIENDSHIP BROKEN 

Confused and driven in a place bright, 

black, big, these two daringly seemed 

almost to understand; their awareness caught 

at each other like whirling midges and dung: 

their dinging governed somewhat the whirl, assured 

the laughter, fogged the terror. 


Suddenly a wrong 

turn breaks the grasp; these two eddy 
apart bewildered, rubbing bruised hands; 
even they add anger to the confusion and the drive 
endlessly impelling. 


Soon the power, finishing 

with these two awarenesses, will drop them as bird lime 
for the chaste resolvement of worms: 

Can a stone know 


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POETRY : A Magazine of Verse 


(hurling finally with its planet into 

the gas maw of a star) that the frightened ephemera 

which once it was, clinging through a few 

earth-spins to another frightened ephemera, created 

a soft grey beautiful nothing called friendship 

which might well be the heart of a more enduring univeise? 

John Russell McCarthy 


IT STOPPED TICKING 

It stopped ticking — clock I had not heard— 

And silence was a shock, 

As if a bell had struck, as if a bird 
Had cuckooed out an hour— 

And more significant than any 
Measured by a clock, 

As if a boat were gliding toward a dock 
With engines still, 

Or ear, new buried in the ground, 

Intensely was aware 

That it was silent there 

And that all other silence was a sound. 

Margery Mansfield 


[ 270 ] 



BATHER SLEEPING 


Across the silken couch of sand 
She lies for earth to understand, 

The burnished blessing of her youth 
Upon her forehead like a hand ; 

For since the sun has held her close 
And loved her much, she is of those 
Lured into gold along their limbs 
Where once were ivory and rose. 

She sleeps in amber. She is one 
With this bright beach she gleams upon, 

The strong waves leaning toward her mouth, 

The lusty opulence of sun. 

And where is magic that may tell 
The sweet and fiery dreams that fill 
The satin blood, the slumbering bone, 

The muscles musically still. 

She must not speak. She is remote. 

She is a poem summer wrote 
And left where aching sand and wind 
Might whisper to her lovely throat. 

James E, Warren, Jr, 


{ 271 ] 



POETRY : A Magazine of Verse 


SUNKEN REALMS 

I 

Forty fathoms beneath 
Sea water lies Lyonnesse, 

Where Arthur met his death 
In war for man’s distress. 

In the Battle of the West 
Falling to Mordred’s sword 
The land became his breast, 

The sea the land’s reward. 

Over those waters poise 
Calm halcyons, nor cry; 

They hear the sea’s deep voice, 

Their mood is memory. 

For hope that has been drowned 
These birds wheel round and round ; 
For faith that has been lost 
Their wings are tempest tossed. 

They mark the traders’ hulls 
Sailing above the sites 
Of cities, pxirsued by gulls 
They struggle for the heights. 


[ 272 ] 



Edgar Lee Masters 


Mons Badon’s bloody field 
Grows tangles of deep sea weed. 
The Virgin on Arthur's shield 
Still drives the race to bleed. 

That Arthur is not revered 
Who singed the Saxon beard. 
His quest of the Holy Grail 
Survives in many a tale. 

His actual sword is gone, 

But the waters of the mere 
Hide not the gems which shone 
On the brand Excalibur. 


II 


After Atlantis, long 
After King Arthur’s wound 
America suffered wrong, 

And half its realm was drowned. 

Sunk fathoms below all eyes, 
Unsung of the Muse’s mouth. 
Who now can lyricizc 
Lee’s lost and ruined South? 


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POETRY : A Magazine of Verse 


All that it has bequeathed 
Is sorrow, its domain 
Is but a whisper breathed 
On seas made dim by rain. 

The Wilderness, Gettysburg, 

Cold Harbor, Fredericksburg, 

Like Lyonnesse are names 
For futile battle fames. 

While noble lives and faiths 
Of the South are vanished wraiths; 
While laws of, a sovereign state 
Lie crushed beneath the fate. 

Who will undo neglect, 

Revoke the tragedy? 

What hands can resurrect 
Lyonnesse from the sea? 

How is it that great lands 
Become but realms of grief, 
Untended by faithful hands. 
Unhelped by great belief? 

What god of power and truth 
Can bring to life the South? 

Yet it shall keep a grace 
Till men forget Lee’s face. 


[ 274 ] 



Edgar Lee Masters 


Naught but this face is left, 

His eyes of patient care, 

Who saw his land bereft, 

With never an answered prayer. 

But he whom nothing daunts, 

Who keeps till death the trust, 

Shall shine above the vaunts 
Of Fortune and its dust; 

Though a tide of sorrow runs 
Above the Southern hills. 

Beneath a sky that chills. 

Where fly the halcyons; 

Though sunken, forgotten, grown 
To just a word alone 
For tragedy, till it stirs 
Some hand to epic verse. 

Edgar Lee Masters 


[2751 



POETRY: A Magazine of Verse 
THE FEDERAL POETS^ NUMBER 


'^HERE is no such thing as pronouncing final judgment 
on any poet. For all that he had, while still living, 
drawn the shroud around his head and closed his eyes for the 
sculptor to set his simulacrum in death, have we not seen, 
in our own time, John Donne stir? Three hundred years 
to the day after he died, I was in Saint Paul’s looking for 
his tomb, I asked any number of men who seemed to belong 
there where it could be found : no one knew. Donne’s statue 
was beside the altar; the lineaments composed for eternity 
had, I suppose, changed as stone changes after three cen- 
turies. Presumably that was not much. Donne’s poetry 
was, as everyone knows who cares to know such things, 
undergoing considerable change. It had been discovered 
to be, not only alive, but subtly and sensually so ; the Dean 
was dead, in fact so utterly dead that the attendants in his 
own cathedral had not remembered, if they had ever seen, 
his name ;imdcr the statue posed on the urn. But the poet 
was at that moment being made over into a contemporary. 

We have had three hundred years to make up our minds 
about Donne; and we have not yet done so. One thing 
only is settled : that he was a poet. And Ben Jonson, who 
thought him ^'the fifst poet in the world, in some things” 
already knew that much. 

I have had three days to make up pay mind about the 
poets who appear in the last issue of Poetry, chosen from 
ainong those who have worked under the Federal Writers^ 

[ 276 ] 



The Federal Poets^ Number 


Projects. Both the editor and I thought we had so arranged 
things that I should have the better part of a month to con- 
sider this anthology. Because of circumstances which neither 
of us could control, the July copy of Poetry reached me 
only three days ago. I have, however, read the other an- 
thologies which in Direction, The New Republic, and The 
New Masses have been made from the work of these poets. 
Some of the names were until then unknown to me. I have 
done what I could to repair my ignorance. Some of the 
names which appear in these other collections are not repre* 
sen ted in Poetry; I shall ignore them in what follows, for^ 
although none of them is unknown, I do not think their 
omission any great poetic loss. It is at once obvious that the 
collection in Poetry is far and away the best that has been 
made from the work of the Project poets. I do not say this 
simply as a compliment to the editors, though it is one. I 
suspect, if their showing is better than any of the others 
from the same sources, it is because they were not moved, 
in the selection, by extraneous considerations, such as the 
political complexion of the poets. They have admitted both 
the pallid and the rubicund. They have not thereby made 
my task any easier. For what I should like to do, what I 
had hoped to do when I undertook to comment on the col- 
lection, which I knew to be made up from poets who are 
young, was to dfecern their directions, to make out, if I 
could, what moved them. So far, I have used the word 
poet as editors use it, for anyone whose work is clearly 
prose whom they have decided to publish. I had dso hoped,, 

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POETRY : A Magazine of Verse 


using the word as a moment since I used it for Donne, to 
find out if there were any poets among them. 

Willard Maas, who was one of the editors of the anthol- 
ogy, has told us “that these poets, with few exceptions, have 
been forced to qualify for relief in order to obtain their pres- 
ent connections with the Federal Writers' Project." He 
has taken over the official way of putting it, which is a nice 
way of saying that they had to declare themselves destitute 
as men before they could receive support as poets. This 
was humiliating — ^how humiliating one of the contributors to 
this collection, Alfred Hayes, has shown in his In a Home 
Relief Bureau, published in The New Masses, But to go 
into the matter of federal aid to poets would not only 
take me far, it would take me away from the particular task 
I have set myself. And besides, it has already been dealt 
with in the July number by those who through experience 
are more competent to deal with it. On that score let me 
merely say that the aid was given ; that, because it was given, 
some writing was done that woxxld not have been done with- 
out it^ and — which is most important in the present state 
of the world — whatever was written as poetry was written 
without the imposition of official opinion on the poet. What- 
ever has been written has been freely written. 

These Federal Writers have not only looked on the actual 
world. They have been caught up in it, no less surely than 
the conscripted soldier is caught and confined in a uniform. 
h find none who has not heeded the first part of Mr. Mac- 
leish^s counsel to the poet; and there is none who has not, 

[ 278 ] 



The Federal Poets^ Number 


within his powers, tried to create, through poetic statement, 
a ‘‘poetry native to the actual world.” Now all of Mr, 
MacLeish’s essay was stirring, but not all of it was new; 
and this particular counsel, it seems to me, I have been 
hearing for some twenty years and more. The fault in that 
counsel is this: that while it takes courage to look at the 
actual world, it is a courage that can be found by the will. 
But to do more than look, to see ; to see more than another, 
and in particular to see more than the journalist sees, or 
the historian is likely to discover ; to see what is dying, what 
dead, what living, what coming to life — ^that requires some- 
thing more than the determination to stare, the resolution 
and the strength to keep staring. It takes more than spec- 
ulation in the eyes to see. And yet it is precisely this seeing 
that is of avail to poetry. And because it is very rare, poetry 
is rare. In the meanwhile, we do what we can; we use 
what we have learned of the poetic craft to record what we 
have to say, or think we have to say. And we console our- 
self by hoping that it may have a certain value as writing, 
even though its values may not be those of poetry. And it 
is also true, as Mr, MacLeish implies, and as I have said 
elsewhere, that too fine a pursuit of purity, whether in poetry 
or morals, leads to sterility. There is always the example 
of Mallarme to frighten us. 

In the matter of craft I cannot discern much that is new. 
And this is important; for a genuine advance in craft al- 
ways means a change in sensibility. I can only conclude 
in this respect there has been no great change in the gen- 

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POETRY ; A Magazine of Verse 


eration of the depression and the preceding one. Let me 
take, simply for convenience, the first four poems. First, I 
shall take A Little Nightmustc of Alfred Hayes, for al- 
though it is not printed first, it can well stand foremost as 
a point of reference. Mr. Hayes is a Communist poet; he 
has been associated with the Living Newspaper Theatre; 
he lives in New York. So that he might be supposed to be 
in touch with whatever is latest and to represent whatever 
is most advanced. But listening to his Little Nightmusic, 
it is impossible to hear anything which is politically an ad- 
vance on T. S. Eliot’s Preludes and Rhapsody on a Windy 
Night. 

I do not know just when these poems of Mr. Eliot’s were 
written, but they are already in the Ara Vus Free volume, 
which came out in 1919; and I suspect they were written 
some time before that, I am not saying that Mr. Hayes has 
nothing of his own; he has; I am merely saying that tech- 
nically he stands very close to the early Eliot, just as James 
Daly, in City^ is doing as a craftsman the sort of thing 
Cummings was doing fifteen years ago. Mr. Larsson does 
show an advance, and happily the person on whom he has 
advanced is himself. He has, I should say, more clearly than 
most others in the issue, a style; but he has had longer than 
most of the others to acquire and perfect a style, for he has 
been writing since the years immediately after the war. And 
the qualities whidb. his poem on the war in Spain shoyv are 
e^ctly those qualities he has always been ready to show, 
but which now are more admirably displayed than before. 



The Federal Poets* Number 


He has asked me not to comment on the present poem, which 
is not here exactly as he would have it; but I must refuse 
his request, simply because Compline of the Men of Peace, 
with its repetitions and contrasts — the men of peace con- 
trasted with the men of war; the metaphors repeated but 
altered, like musical phrases transposed into another key— 
seems to me the best thing he has done. As it stands, it 
avoids the poet^s worst fault, which is diffuseness. And I 
hope he does nothing to change it, except to remove the 
special marks of attention which he has placed around the 
word Spain, which needs none. 

I have kept back Kenneth Fearing, though he has, and 
because of his tone, I think rightly, the first place in this 
anthology. He, more than any of the others, has some- 
thing new, though it is not altogether easy to say briefly 
what his technical contribution is. What immediately strikes 
one is the sense of foreboding, which is conveyed by a series 
of images so spare that his speech seems almost abstract. 
Whatever is seen is surely, but not dearly, seen, for it is 
scarcely caught sight of before it has dissolved into some- 
thing else. It is by this means — ^reminiscent of nightmarer— 
that he convinces us what he is telling us about, with such 
hints and indirections, is something that is like an end, and 
yet may never end. This, surely, is a poetry of the de- 
pression. And I should like particularly to note that the 
quality of the depression is rendered to us not so much by 
what he says, as by his manner of saying it. He does juot 
need the emphasis of capitals. But is it for emphasis that hte 

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POETRY : A Magazine of Verse 


has used them in this poem ? Are they not rather reminders 
of all those dictates that continually assail us from sign- 
boards, which seek to impress by the enormity of their print, 
while they admonish us that only by doing what they say 
can we escape the feeling of fear? And all the time the 
aim of the signboards is to stimulate fear. Who can say 
that Mr. Fearing’s name has not entered his writing? So 
far, he has been limited to this one effect; but that he car- 
ries off extremely well. 

What are these poems about? Well, there is no doubt 
that most of them are concerned with the actual state of the 
world. They know a world in which there is war and 
rumor of war. Even Willard Maas^s Journey and Return, 
which goes into the country of memory, after recounting 
much that was desirable, must in the end record : 

And the naked trees in the dark 

Cry out with dreams before we awake 

With machine guns mounted on the window sills. 

It is a world in which the actualities are hunger and greed, 
ignorance and protest, deprivation and doubt. Daring is 
praised ; and the downtrodden are urged to rise. There are 
those who care; there is the man whose conscience stirs 
when walking in the lazy air, knowing there has been 
another raid in Barcelona ; there are those who do not care, 
^^those who turn guiltily in their sleep.’’ Mr. Funaroff’s 
tribute To Federico Oarcta Lorca says what he started out 
to say. But I cannot but feel that most of the poets of 
social protest look faint imder the weight of their subjects. 
Their cries are like those we try to make in sleep, when 

[ 282 ] 



The Federal Poets* Number 


the anguish is real, but sound will not come. 

It is because he keeps within his compass, his subject 
limited, not only to what he knows, but also to what he 
knows he can do within the range of a country ballad, that 
Sterling Brown’s The Young Ones is more effective than, 
say, Summons at Night of Virgil Geddes, or The End of 
the World of Harold Rosenberg. 

Mr. Maa§ is not a poet of protest, nor is Charles Hude- 
burg; both seem to me poets. Since they are, their work 
deserves a more careful analysis than I can here give it. 
Mr. Hudeburg seems to me to promise more than any other 
poet whose name was not known to me before reading these 
anthologies. But if he is promising, he is also troubling; 
as in Hart Crane, there are hints in his poems of some- 
thing held back, of something obscured. And I would 
rather reserve comment on him until I have seen more of 
his work. So must I, too, with Kenneth Rexroth, whom 
I admire, but whose contribution to the Federal Poets’ Num- 
ber I cannot understand nor place in relation to other 
poems of his I have seen. 

I have written more than I intended and said less than 
I should. I have had to pass over a number of nam^ 
simply from lack of space. And even where it hias been 
possible for me to comment on a poet, I do not pretend that 
I have said the last word — not even that I have said my 
own last word. And certainly if he is really a poet^ the 
last word will not be mine, but time’s. 

John Pede BkMp 


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POETRY : A Magazine of Verse 


IS INDEED 5 

MODERN poet to my knowledge has such a clear, 
child4ike perception as E. E. Cummings — a way of 
coming smack against things with unaffected delight and 
wonder. This candor, which results in breath-takingly clean 
vision, IS a quality he shares with William Carlos Williams, 
just about equally, although, to be sure, Williams is not 
child-like. No modern poet, furthermore, is less self-im- 
portant than Cummings — none so delicately shy about assert- 
ing his will upon others. These are not, so far as I am 
aware, the customary opinions of his work, but if one keeps 
his attention for a time strictly upon the lyrical verses in the 
Collected Poems^, without permitting himself to be startled 
or shocked (and therefore sidetracked) by the typographical 
fireworks or the satire, he will find qualities in Cummings’ 
poetry that are reminiscent of nothing so much as a sensitive 
and well-mannered child. (The number at the end of each 
quotation indicates the number of the poem in the volume.) 

Always before your voice my soul 
balf-beautiful and wholly droll 
is as some smooth and awkward foal 
whereof young moons begin 

the newness ox his skin. [15] 

i am a beggar always 
who begs in your mind 

(slightly smiling, patient, unspeaking 
with a s%n on his 


^Mected JPoemj!, by E. E. Cummings. Harcourt, Brace & Co. 

[284] 



1$ Indeed S 


breast 

BLIND) yes i 

am this person of whom somehow 

you are never wholly rid . . . [17I] 

This lyrical impulse is quiet, pure, and innocent, so that 
few people have written better poetry for children than 
Cummings has. 

little tree 

little silent Christmas tree . . . 

who found you in the green forest 

and were you sorry to come away? [1043 

Leave him alone, and he will play in a corner for hours, 
with his fragilities, his colors, and his delight in the bright 
shapes of all the things he sees; 

some ask praise of their fellows 

but i being otherwise 

made compose curves 

and yellows, angles or silences 

to a less erring end) [185] 

The important point about E. E. Cummings is, however, 
that he was not left alone. He was dumped out into the 
uninnocent and unlyrical world — the world of chippies, 
broads, and burlesque shows such as are discovered by 
Harvard undergraduates ‘^seeing life” — ^and after that into 
the infinitely more shocking world of the blood, vermin, 
murder, commercialized idealism, and patriotic hysteria of 
the Great War. Cummings wrote about these two worlds 
(which frequently merge into each other) hfe fiercest 
satirical verse. His lyricistn, shy enough at best, ran com- 
pletely for cover, and he turned upon the nightmare worlds 
of reality partly with the assumed callou^ess and defensive 

[2851 



POETRY ; A Magazine of Verse 


self-mockery of the very sensitive, and partly with the white 
and terrible anger of the excessively shy. 

The self-mockery that served to conceal his innocence and 
lyricism (principally from himself, one suspects) begins to 
find expression toward the end of Tulips and Chimneys, 
and recurs in his poetry throughout the rest of his work. 
Poems of this kind, dealing principally with prostitutes, 
yeggs, and perverts, are, like his play Him, powerful, phan- 
tasmagoric — ^as if the poet, having left his fragilities behind 
him, were exploring with unfeeling but lively curiosity a 
nether world peopled by hideous automatons. There is in 
these poems none of the sentimentality in reverse that made 
the ‘‘scarlet woman” and disreputable hang-outs the subjects 
for delicious shudders among the fin-de-siecle poets. Cum- 
mings* inferno is the accurate record of an incredulity that 
was compelled to accept, against the testimony of every in- 
nate sense of reality, the world as he found it to be. 

when you rang at Dick Mid’s Place 

the madam was a bulb stuck in the door. 

a fang of wincing gas showed how 

hair, in two fists of shrill colour, 

clutched the dull volume of her tumbling face 

scribbled with a big grin, her sow- 

eyes clicking mischief from diick lids. 

the chunklike nose on which always the four 

tablets of perspiration erecting sitting . . . I37] 

the words drizzle untidily from released 
dieeks *^I’ll tell duh woild; some noive all right 
Ain’t much on looks but how dat baby acheX” 
and when i timidly hinted "novocaine?” 
the eyes odtstart, curl, bloat, are newly baked 
and swaggering cookies of indicant light 

[286] 


[1221 



Is Indeed S 


We have his detailed testimony as to the nature of the 
suicide part of him had to commit before all this could be 
accepted : 

the mind is its own beautiful prisoner 
Mine looked long at the sticky moon . . . 
then decently hanged himself^ one afternoon . . . 
the last thing he saw was you 

naked amid unnaked things. [8$1 

Now and then, however, the world offers a situation 
which overcomes his indifference — ^and when this happens 
Cummings condenses such pity and terror into a sudden 
stanza or turn of phrase (all the more terrible because un- 
expected) that the reader is taken with a quick, sharp 
thud, right in the pit of his consciousness. These (perhaps 
involuntary) revelations of his carefully concealed ethical 
passion — not frequent, but frequent enough so that we know 
they are not accidental— constitute an unobtrusive claim by 
which we are compelled to grant that he has written some 
poetry that we cannot call anything but great. The famous 
Good Samaritan incident of the abandoned drunk — a poem 
which moves with a furious rush of pity, scorn, and horror 
to a terrifying climax — contains such a revelation. It is, 
perhaps, the best of all his poems. 

Brushing from whom the stiflFened puke 

i put him all into my arms 

and staggered banged with terror through 

a million billion trillion stars* [142] 

Anger Is the central passion of his war-poetry — the white 
anger, as I have said, of the excessively shy. Although mmy 
have already conceded his Bnormous Room tq be oine of the 

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POETRY: A Magazine of Verse 


greatest war-books, only few have as yet realized that Cum- 
mings has written what are certainly our greatest war- 
poems. Some of them, to be sure, are wry, grotesque 
whimsicality in the midst of death, such as 148 (the 
‘^etcetera” poem), and 151 (“look at this/a 75 done/this”). 
But such poems as 149 (“come, gaze with me upon this 
dome/of many colored glass, and see”) and 204 (“i sing of 
Olaf glad and big/whose warmest heart recoiled at war”) 
are written in an intensity of angry scorn that would be, in 
anyone else’s hands, hysterical, but in Cummings is handled 
with a calculated reserve that holds the feelings, surely 
though dangerously, at an almost intolerable pitch: 

our president, being of which 
assertions duly notified 
threw the yellowsonofabitch 
into a dungeon, where he died 

Christ (of His mercy infinite) 
i pray to see; and Olaf, too 

preponderatingly because 

unless statistics lie he was 

more brave than me, more blond than you. 

E. E. Cummings’ descent into Hell is a trip from which 
he has not come up. He is still there (or here). Perhaps 
there is no coming up if, as Eliot has said, in prose one may 
be concerned with ideals, but in poetry one deals with reality. 
The brilliant mind that early took refuge in sophistication is 
new profoundly sophisticated (if this is not a contradiction 
in terms— one cannot say urbane, because he cares too 
much).. All along he has had the habit of occasionally 
gathering together fragments of hfe inferno and weaving 

[ 288 ] 



Is Indeed S 


them into patterns of surprising lyric grace — as in 69 (‘‘little 
ladies more/than dead exactly dance/in my head”). More 
frequently in his recent poetry he seems to be returning, 
although with elaborate precautions lest he be caught acting 
like a softie, to his naturally tender delicacy of sentiment — 
his almost sentimentality. But, 

along the treacherous bright streets 
of memory comes my heart, singing like 
an idiot, whispering like a drunken man 

who (at a certain corner, suddenly) meets 

the tall policeman of my mind. [184] 

That mind is one that has been compelled to tragic adjust- 
ments. 

Perhaps this fact explains the eccentricities of his tech- 
nique. Partly they are a disguise — a man so sick of the 
“poetry” and rotten idealism of his time, a man so acutely 
aware of the ludicrous figure presented by people with beau- 
tiful souls in a world of brutes and slobberers, is forced if 
he is most indubitably a poet to present an exterior that will 
make it impossible for anyone to think of him as a “poet” as 
commonly understood. The painful, sardonic humor of 123 
shows this process in operation. He deliberately drives away 
as many “poetry-lovers” as possible — ^the entire “literary” 
world of facile emotions. To these people he has nothing 
to say, preferring to be regarded, as he usually is by academic 
and journalistic reviewers alike, as plain nuts, Thts 
Cummings is sure that those who come to him, those who 
have been willing to force their way through the barbed- 
wire entanglements of his syntax and typography, are frimda. 

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POETRY : A Magazine of Verse 


‘*The poems to come,” as he says jn his introduction, “are 
for you and for me and are not for mostpeople. 

“ — it’s no use trying to pretend that mostpeople and 
ourselves are alike ... You and I are human beings; most- 
people are snobs.” It is no use either trying to pretend that 
it is Cummings who is the snob, for he is attacking the snob- 
bery of the right-minded, than which there is no greater or 
more harmful snobbery. 

. . . may i be wrong 

for whenever men are right they are not young. [312] 
Another reason for his technique is his attempt, perhaps 
illegitimate, to represent by words and typography experi- 
ences just the way they happened, without regard to the 
formalities or the “laws” of thought. This results in the 
most daring of his technical innovations : 
n(o)w 

the 

how 

dis (appeared cleverly) world 
iS Slapped iwith ; UGhtninG 

I [ 221 ] 

sh estifU 
ystrut sal 
lif san 
dbut stb 

epontin (gWh.ono :w 
s li psh ergo 

wnd ow n* [262] 

These are probably “not poetry”, but I am not sure that this 
Matters greatly, since they succeed eminently in doing what 
they set out to do, Mr. Cummings is not interested in the 
“legitimacy” of his experiments. 

[ 290 ] 



Is Indeed 5 


Can one say, following current critical fashions, that 
Cummings is up a blind alley, and so saying dismiss him 
as a left-over from the f utilitarian twenties? This is not to 
ask whether he has said all he is capable of saying. The 
question is whether the exercise and discipline of our sensi- 
bilities to which his poetry submits us are still useful. If we 
find that they are, it is merely churlish to complain that he 
is no “fructifying force”. His profound scepticism is re- 
garded now, of course, as “dating” him. I am not at all 
sure that this is a fault in him — ^for his scepticism is of a 
kind that ought not to be lightly abandoned. His is not 
the easier way. 

But one can make too much of his scepticism and scorn 
— for nineteenth century critics of Swift are not the only 
ones who can make the mistake of reading satire without 
seeing behind it the convictions out of which the satire arose. 
There is no excuse for missing these convictions in Cum- 
mings, for he makes them explicit: 

King Christ, this world is all aleak; 
and life preservers there* are none; 
and waves which only He may walk 
who dares to call Himself a man. [25S] 

rd rather learn from one bird how to sing 
than teach ten thousand stars how not to dance% 

The sum-total of such beliefs in Cummings comprises, I mi 
sure, the absolute minimum of conviction with which a poet 
can do business. But these are things which need to be said 
over again by every generation in its own idiom, and Mr* 
Cummings has done right well in his. 

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POETRY : A Magazine of Verse 


The only regret about the Collected Poems is that Mr* 
Cummings did not see fit to collect all his poems. The 
omissions are few, but some, in my opinion, are important. 
The difficult t3^ographical job which this volume represents 
has been excellently handled by Robert Josephy, who ought 
to be given a medal. 

S. J. Hayakawa 


REVIEWS 

PROPHECY AND FACT 

Trial of a Judge, by Stephen Spender. London; Faber & 
Faber. 

TT IS difficult to write about Trial of a Judge with only 
the text as a guide; the critic may consider the work as 
poetry, purely and simply, or he may hazard a guess as to 
its dramatic virtues and defects, if he chooses to treat it pri- 
marily as a play to be produced in the theatre, but certainly, 
without the reinforcement of witnessing an actual perform- 
ance to aid him in clarifying his statements, he will have 
more than a little difficulty when he comes to fuse his re- 
marks into a aritioEsm of the play as poetic drama. There 
is, too, the further obstacle set up by the divergence of Trial 
of a Judge from other recent verse-plays. (Like The Dog 
Beneai^h the Skm^ The Ascent of F 6 , and Uut of the Pic- 
ture, Trial 0f a Judge k a political play with a moral,) but 
Spender is not having a holiday; there is no joking anu no 

[ 292 ] 



Prophecy and Fact 


mockery. Spender makes use of a chorus, it is true, but 
he divides his action into five acts in the traditional Eliza- 
bethan manner, and he has relied far less on tricks and a 
fertile imagination for brilliant mechanical devices than 
Auden and MacNeice have done. This is meant neither 
as praise nor condemnation; it is meiely an attempt to isolate 
Spender from his competitors in the same field. 

The play verges on the historical.) Although the scene 
of the action is not definitely fixed, it is quite certain that 
it is Germany at the time of the collapse of the democracy 
and the rise of the Nazi state. It makes no difference that 
the Nazis wear black uniforms instead of brown. Briefly, 
Trial of a Judge is the story of a man who has condemned 
five Fascist party-members to death for the murder of a 
Jewish intellectual, Petra. His action is the mainspring for 
the rise of the Fascist power; in an hysterical attempt to 
preserve the democracy, Hummeldorf, a weakling minister, 
and the wife of the Judge, bitter, half crazed by hate and 
fear of the post-war world in which she lives, prevail upon 
the Judge to retract his sentence. But in his desire for per- 
fect justice, the Judge demands that an equally harsh sen- 
tence which he had imposed on three Communists for having 
wounded a policeman vdiile defending themselves, be lifted* 
and that they be freed as well. Since Tie has resigned his 
post, this action makes him a traitor to the Fascist cat|se, 
and when he witnesses the terror and chaos of the Fascist 
mbnster, and demands the arrest of the murdereis of Petra'^St 
brother, he is thrown in prbon and held for triaf. 

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POETRY : A Magazine of Verse 


meldorf now becomes judge, an old man in fear of the 
Fascists, humiliated, made to sentence another who has been 
his friend; but disgusted and sick at the vulgar farce of 
the trial, he himself falls a victim of the Aryan myth." The 
death of the Judge, of Hummeldorf, of Petra^s fiancee 
is merely the prelude to a greater slaughter. 

Instead of creating his own framework of legend as he 
goes along, as Auden and Isherwood do, Spender works 
with a ready-made pattern. It is to be expected that certain 
gains will emerge from this procedure, and it follows in- 
versely, I think, that something will be lost. The surface 
excitement of an Auden play is missing, the denouement of 
the events themselves can be predicted as soon as the plot 
progresses far enough to show the drift of the action; but 
being less concerned with plot, the poet must necessarily 
define his characters and his language more sharply. 

It is here that one of the major difficulties of the play 
arises. Spender^s unwillingness to present the conflicting 
ideologies with anything more than the most barren sym- 
pathy for one side over another has led him into making his 
play a vqhide for the struggle between Fascism and Com- 
munism. The Judge, however, who is the central pivot on 
which the action turns, is a living character in bold contrast 
to the other characters, “"the wife of the Judge, Petra's 
brother, Petra's fiancee, and Petra's mother. The balance 
is upset, the abstract and the human refuse to knit. The 
pa^onate objectivity is marred by the intrusion of the 
Judge; the morality that the Judge represents further mars 

[ 294 ] 



Prophecy and Fact 


the poWtics in the abstract. 

'this twofold intention leads into still other complexities 
which prove fatal to the play’s complete effectiveness. The 
resolution of the play is the triumph, tempoiary as it may 
be, of Fascism. When, at the end tHe Chorus of Red 
Prisoners says f 

We shall be free 
We shall find peace, 

Spender is, pitting words against accomplished fact. It is 
the same predicament that ^confronts the hero of Bread and 
Wincj when he sees that the revolutionary movement in 
Italy has gone to pieces because there is no effective way to 
combat fact with promises which remain words. Spender 
lets his prophecy be the hope, but the hope is nearly futile. 
Yet the grimness of Trial of a Judge is preferable, I think, 
to a manufactured piece of fiction. 

The final weakness in the structure seems to lie elsewhere, 
however. Spender certainly conceived his play fundamen- 
tally as a poem, and paid too little attention to the actual 
drama of his situation. The device of giving titles to the 
separate acts, the thematic repetitions, as, for example, tie 
echoes of the speech of the Judge in the first act which occur 
in Act IV, and the long, unbroken passages, almost solilo- 
quies, are either too subtle (or, at times, too obvious) in 
reading the play, and would prove in production to be simpfy 
excuses for mannerisms unless varied with great skill. Tie 
drama and the poetry separate too easily. 

But the poetry itself has much. Certainly Tried of a 

[ 295 ] 



Prophecy and Fact 


Cut at the steel rails of suburban lines* 

Like rusting cogs, the tanned, naked unemployed 
Lay on canal banks bathed in sun’s white wilderness. 

In cafes, in darkness, in tenements, in slums, at street corners, 
Voices grew sharp as knives and lives cut their moorings. 
Violence and riot flowered. But now all that is ended. 

The violence which will “burst over Europe as a bomb^^ is 
established. It is not difficult to imagine that the scene 
of the Judge’s trial is close to the truth. In spite of many 
weaknesses (and this brief essay seems to have been devoted 
chiefly to the weaknesses), Tnal of a Judge is certainly the 
most moving and richest attempt yet made by the younger 
poets in a field which has been lying fallow for almost three 
centuries. 

Samuel French Morse 


AN INTELLECTUAL POET 

Said Before Sunset^ by Frederick Mortimer Clapp. Harpers. 

For the subtlety and brilliance of their intellectual con- 
cepts, for their varied, particular originality of form, 
Frederick Mortimer Clapp’s poems deserve to be much bet- 
ter known. And the present collection (his fifth) merits 
a much less trite and inept title. As in New Poems and 
other volumes, in Said Before Sunset Mr. Clapp continuses 
his comment upon certain contemporary matters. He 
the social scene vsdth a detached, thou^ somewhat acid Qte, 
preferring, like Robinson Jeffers, to stand apart from poliifc- 
ical controversy, from the *^e3q)losive mistures^* of doctrt- 



POETRY : A Magazine of Verse 


naires, the drift toward false dawns. He advises poets to 
‘‘serve no icing,” and not to scuflE their bright boots “on 
the strewn stones of war or peace or policies or creeds.” 
Mr. Clapp is content to throw the burden of proof upon 
history. 

His real interests lie in a consideration of mind and spirit 
under the impact of modern cultural or scientific achieve- 
ment. He goes after verities with the skeptical, searching 
mind of the scientist ; he turns sardonically from the material 
and mechanical to honor mathematics in its purer forms. 
The titles of many of the poems — Grey-matter and Salt- 
flats j Marginalia at Zoo, Force-enslaving Tricks, Shampoo- 
ing Blame — reveal the stimulating nature of his viewpoint 
and interests. Sensitive modifications in accent or rhythmic 
emphasis enable him to achieve, within the framework of 
conventional metrical forms, a highly individual tempo com- 
parable to the innovations of modern music. He understands 
well the relationship between music and mathematics; his 
thought finds best expression in a pattern or formula worked 
out in concise, geometric terms. Readers accustomed to 
poetry scaled to the more familiar images and incidents of 
common experience will find much of this difficult at first 
glance. It is true that the diction is not always simple, that 
the phrases are frequently overburdened with abstract, heavy- 
syllabled words. But, when writing at his best, Mr. Clapp 
xjseis strikingly new and apt figures. With a feeling for 
texture and movement that reminds one of Hopkins, he 
sees the waterfall ‘^crinkly like sheer stuff pulled over a 

[ 298 ] 



Jn Intellectual Poet 


glass bar, in leaf-shaken streaks of sun.” And such a poem 
as Subjective Time indicates not only his care with metrics, 
but his ability to treat an abstraction in memorable visual 
terms. 

Time the obsession, the immense stone, 
poised upside down like the mirage of a mountain on itself, 
peak to peak at dawn, its roots entangled in the grave-yard of 
the stars, 

trembles above shadow Valleys destitute of being, 
trembles, the creeping spectre of the mind 
enmeshed in a feeble lattice-work of veins 
on a grey slime’s contorted folds. This alone 
is the dead centre, this creeping of Time, this clutched and empty 
pelf 

of passion reverberant to the impotently beaten bars 
of consciousness — ^grim fallacy concealed in the persuasion of 
seeing 

and dayless deception of the light-struck blind 

brief in an unchanging universe of interwoven strains. 

Ruth Lechlitner 


TWO ANTHOLOGIES 

American Naval Sonets and Ballads, Edited by Robert W. 

Neeser. Yale University Press. 

Voices from the Fields: A Book of Country Songs by Farm- 
ing People. Edited by Russell Lord with an Introduc- 
tion by Carl Van Doren. Houghton MijflSin Co. 

These two books of verse are a complete contrast to each 
other. In one point only are they alike : they are both the 
products of singers who make their songs because they want 
to; because, very likely, they cannot help singing. But, ^on- 

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POETRY : A Magazine of Verse 


taneity apart, there is little to be said either for or about 
the first volume, other than that it is a carfefully edited com- 
pilation, covering slightly more than a hundred years, from 
the American Revolution to the somewhat arbitrary date of 
1882. These songs and ballads are Americana rather than 
poetry. (You know the sort of yo-heave-ho thing I mean.) 
They are diflScult to read, because, whatever their date, they 
are all exactly the same; soon enough, with the best will 
in the world, the attention wanders, the eyelids flutter, and 
boredom sets in. 

Voices from the Fields j on the other hand, are Americana, 
but poetry as well. This little anthology has a curious 
origin. It is a book of poems sent in during the last ten 
years by readers of one of America’s oldest farm papers, 
T\e Country Home Magazine^ established at Springfield, 
Ohio, in 1877 as Farm if Fireside • Since 1930 the editorial 
oflBices have been in New York, but the million and a half 
subscribers this magazine strives monthly to please are still 
drawn from the rural population all over the coxmtry. In 
1927 a contributors’ column was started, The Forum, edited 
by Russell Lord, who is also the editor of the present col- 
lection. Eadb column is headed by a poem, sent in by some 
reader of the paper, and Voices from the Fields is Mr. Lord’s 
selection of the best of these contributions. 

There are fifty-ihree farmer-poets represented, many of 
whose poras are accwpanied by biographical notes by Mr. 
Lord, The fictiornwriter’s imagination cannot fall to be 
^dbened by some of ihese case-histories, which supply mate- 

1300] 



Two Anthologies 


rial for an agricultural novel of a new and agreeable kind* 
There is Ben H. Smith, who grows strawberry plants in 
southern Illinois, and likes it; W. W. Christman, who died 
in 1937, after seventy-two years spent happily tilling the 
acres in New York state he inherited from his father and 
raising a bumper crop of nine children; Alta Booth Dunn, 
who lives on a ranch in the far west and refers to herself 
gaily as one of “us old cowpunchers” ; Brother X., a young 
country schoolteacher, who found peace as a monk in the 
Catholic Church; Mary Elizabeth Mahnkey, the chatty, cosy 
wife of a farmer in the Ozark Mountains of Missouri; the 
late Herbert Rittenburg, a hired man in Virginia, who did 
chores for his keep and whose tones are the most touching 
of all the Voices from the Fields* 

As one turns over the leaves of this impretentious s|^eaf 
of lyrics, the strongest impression one receives is that of 
cheerfulness. On the whole, in spite of a melancholy note 
here and there, these men and women are happy. They 
like being farmers. The land that they till is indeed “the 
good earth” to them. They say so, over and over agw, 
compensating for a certain awkwardness of approach and 
triteness of phraseology by the sincerity of their feding. 
These fifty-three farmer-poets are not afraid of the obvious 
— ^are unaware, probably, £|iat it is the obvious — ^a:^d there- 
fore they frequently transcend it to achieve a real and living 
beauty. I should like to quote something from each of #e 
outstanding poets in the group to fllustrate my meaniog. 
But, as space forbids, I shall dose with a sonnet, the last 

1301] 



POETRY : A Magazine of Verse 


poem in the section by Mr. Christman, who seems to me, 
all things considered, the finest craftsman of them all. 

The gift of rest be with you where you lie 
Under the weeds and grass and the wild rose, 

Or where steep acres run to reach the sky 
And everlasting and heath aster blows. 

Moss pink and blue-eyed myrtle thatch each shed, 

Cover with beauty every house of peace 
Where you who fell on sleep lie long abed, 

Eternity the limit of your lease. 

Peace be upon your houses! when you went 
We grieved, we felt the bitterness, the lack, 

Then softly fell the evening of content — 

The world had changed, we would not wish you back. 
Now peace be in your houses! soon we too 
Must lay aside our work and rest with you. 

Arthur Meeker, Jr, 


NEWS NOTES 

A delightful and authentic voice is lost to modern American 
poetry with the death of John V. A. Weaver, which occurred on 
June 14 in Colorado. He is best remembered for the racily collo- 
quial note struck in those poems collected in his first book. In 
American, and various succeeding volumes. H. L. Mencken’s studies 
in the American language had inspired “Johnny*^ to the belief that 
good poetry could be written in slang, and he set his hand to it 
His fitst efforts won the enthusiastic encouragement of Mencken 
and others, and the monologues and lyrics that continued to flow 
from his pen found the Muse tossing the lingo of the pool-room 
and the soda-fountain with no sacrifice of poetic dignity. His use 
of ball-pitcher and salesgirl slang was not a stunt, as performances 
in the colloqhial so often are; it avoided the self-conscious and 
artiheial “quaintness” of most dialect poetry and was as genuine 
as it was racy. Some of our readers wiU remember his early 
appearances in Poetry^ beginning in May 1918. 

.^ong many continents we have received on Delmore Schwartz^s 
artide^ Ezra Eoimd^s Fery Useful Ichors, only one accuses the 
author of nbt showing suSicient admiration for his subject. This 

[ 302 ] 



News Notes 


is from John Drummond, of Rapallo, Italy, who writes: ‘*Mr. 
Schwartz’s title suggests a picture of Mr. Pound as a sort of 
laboring Hercules, which might be all very well if his article 
itself (in your March issue) substantiated it, but actually he seems 
to stick at depicting little more than a ‘literary gent’ True, there 
is mention of his 'quasi^editorial activities’, and blue-pencilling 
early Hemingway MSS. must have been a tough job, but ‘one 
who has devoted himself almost wholly to literature’, or ‘the pure 
literary man, the complete man of letters^ does not sound very 
herculean, does it? . . .He pictures Mr. Pound being preoccupied 
with hoftv things are said, whereas the Cantos are no less im- 
portant for what things are said. If we rescue Mr. Pound from 
the unfortunate literary pigeon-hole in which Mr. Schwartz has 
absent-mindedly placed him, and read the Cantos as the work of 
an author who is not a specialist, but who has sought to erect a 
hierarchy of cultural values from all times and places, we will 
perhaps appreciate them more as a whole, and, not surprisingly, 
draw somewhat different conclusions about certain passages. . . . 
Matters mentioned in the Cantos become “news” in the press sev- 
eral years later. . . . Thus the machinations of Sir Basil Zaharoff 
were recorded long before the appearance of the sensational 
biographies. . . . And, to come nearer home. Canto XXXVIII, pub- 
lished four years ago, contains the lines: 

‘And that year Mr. Whitney 
Said how useful short sellin’ was. 

We suppose he meant to ihe brokers 
And no-one called him a liar.’ ” 

The Lyric, our Virginia contemporary, devoted its spring issue 
to a special British number containing interesting poems by C. Day 
Lewis, Walter de la Mare, Siegfried Sassoon, Ru& Pitter, Wilfrid 
Gibson, V. Sackville-West, L. A. G. Strong, and others, and a 
critical essay by Geoffrey Johnson. An all- Virginia number ia be- 
ing prepared for the autumn. 

Two radio programs in honor of our July Federal Poets* Number 
were recently broadcast over stations WNYC and WQXR. Amy 
Bonner was guest announcer on both occasions, and the poef 3 who 
spoke and read were Willard Maas, Charlotte Wilder, 8. Punntoff, 
and Helen Neville, 

The complete collected poems of William Carlos Williams jwM 
be published in the fall under the imprint of New Dlrecsb^ns^ 
The same £rm will publish an American edition of Charles HJenri 
Ford’s The Garden of Disorder, reviewed in our July issue by 

[ 303 ] 



POETRY; A Magazine of Verse 


Peter DeVries. A caravan of American Hunting, edited by Ben 
Field, Richard Wright, Prudencio de Pereda, and S. FunaroflE, is 
announced for fall publication by the Critics Group, 96 Fifth Ave- 
nue, N. Y. C. This will be devoted solely to fiction and verse. 
Payment will be made for manuscripts, and the work of younger 
writers is particularly welcome. 

A noteworthy collection of ancient Egyptian art work, poetry, 
narrative, proverbs, letters, etc., has been made available in Never 
to Die, edited by Josephine Mayer and Tom Prideaux, and pub- 
lished by the Viking Press. This brings together in non-academic 
fashion the most significant and illuminating material yet un- 
earthed in the effort to throw light on the somewhat phantasmal 
Egyptian. Much of the poetry is worth reading for its own sake. 
The volume is as good-looking as it is informative, a successful 
achievement in presenting “The Egyptians in Their Own Words.” 

Samuel French Morse has been appointed American Editor of 
London’s Twentieth Century Verse, the small but excellent twice- 
quarterly edited by Julian Symons. The magazine is planning an 
American number, and contributions from this country should be 
addressed to Mr. Morse at 237 Locust Street, Danvers, Mass. 

NOTES ON CONTRIBUTORS 

^ DYLAN THOMAS, whose work William Empson calls “the most ex- 
citing development in English poetry during the last few years”, 
was born fn Swansea, South Wales, in 1914. He has published 
three volumes {tB Poems, 25 Poems, The Burning Baby) and is 
perhaps the best known of the surrealist poets writing in English. 
An American edition of his poems will be published this year 
1^ New Directions. 

LEp rasters' most recent book of verse is The New World. 
He will contribute to our next issue a review of Eunice Tietjen’s 
autobiography. 

Mary barnard is a native and resident of Vancouver, Wash. 
In 1935 she received out award of honor, the Levinson Prisfe. 

BABBTtE DEtTTSCB, of New York, is a regular contributor to 
Pobx^h She is the author of several books of Verse, Fire for fhe 
Night, FpisAe to Pramefheus, etc., and of the critical study, This 
Modem Poetry, 

rirRdrrsck MmtitMRR CMPP is a well-known art authori^ and 
of ^ the Frick Collection. He has published five books 
df poems, iadluding* Before Sunsgt, reviewed in thus issue. 

[304J 



Notes on Contributors 


TERENCE HEYWOOD^ who was introduced to our readers in April, 
was born in Johannesburg, South Africa, in 1913, and educated at 
Malvern and Oxford. He is at present studying at Upsala Uni- 
versity in Sweden, and writing a book on Sweden. 

MARY FINETTE BARBER was bom in Greenwich, N. Y., and now 
lives in Chevy Chase, Md. She has contributed frequently to 
Poetry and otiber periodicals. 

MARGERY MANSFIEL0, of New York, was formerly a member of 
our staff and is the author of Workers in Ftrei A Book about 
Poetry, 

CARLOS BULOSAN, a native of the Philippines, sends us his new 
poem from the General Hospital, Los Angeles. An interesting 
account of his life will be found in our February 1936 issue. 

JOHN RUSSELL MCCARTHY, of California, has contributed often 
to Poetry since 1914. His most recent book is For the Morning, 
CARL EDWIN BURKLUND, who was introduced to our readers in 
1931, lives in Ann Arbor, Mich, 

WALTER LOWENFELS, of New York, is the author of Episodes and 
Epistles, V, 8, A, moith Music, Finale of Seem, etc., and of the re- 
cently published Steel 1937, 

The following poets appear here for the first time: 

VINCENT STARRETT, of Chicago, though perhaps best known for 
his mystery novels, is also an authority on Ambrose Bierce and 
has written several books of verse, including Ebony Flame, 
JOSEPH JOEL KEITH is a native of Pennsylvania but has lived for 
the past fourteen years in Hollywood. He has contributed poems 
to many magazines and is co-author with Kathleen Sutton of a 
novelette in verse, Through Many Doors, 

JAMES WARREN, JR. was bom in 1908 in Atlanta, Ga., where he 
still lives. While attending Emory University, he served as b^lor 
of the Emory Phoenix, He has contributed to The North Am^km 
Review, The Sewanee Remew, Voices, etc., and was the winner of 
this year's first prize of $100 given \sy the Poetry Society of Anierica^ 
JAMBS BOOTHE was bom in Sweetwater, Tex.^ in ahd 

just finished his junior year at the University of Soluffieiiai Call^ 
fornia. His work has appeared in several magazines end apr 
tholo^es« , 

All but one of this month^s prose contributors have apjeapld 
previously here. 

JOHN PEALE BISHOP, the distinguished poet and novelist nhvj 
in South Chatham, Ma^s* His most recent book of pom fs llfr 
nute Particulars, s, L hayakawa was bom in Canada of Ja^panese 

[3051 



POETRY : A Magazine of Verse 


parents. He received his Ph.D. from the University of Wisconsin, 
where he has been a member of the English faculty for the past 
eight years. Samuel french morse is at present doing graduate 
work at Harvard. He is American Editor of the London period- 
ical, Tweniteth Century Verse, ARTHUR meeker, jr., of Chicago, 
has contributed widely to magazines and is the author of several 
novels, including The Chalet and Vestal Virgin, ruth lechlit- 
NER*s book of poems, Tomorrow's Phoentx, was recently published 
by the Alcestis Press 

BOOKS RECEIVED 

ORIGINAL VERSE : ^ 

Selected Poems, by John Gould Fletcher. Farrar k Rhinehart. 
Fantasia, by Wade Oliver. Mosher Press. 

Dawn is Forever, by E. Merrill Root. Packard k Co , Chicago. 
Testament, by Martha Wilson. Richards, London. 

Selected Poems, by Edwin G. Burrows. Press of Jonathan Ed- 
wards College, New Haven, Conn. 

The Old House Pememhers and Small Town Portraits, by Con- 
stance Deming Lewis Kaleidograph Press, Dallas, Texas. 
Higher Realms, by Paul Falvury. Libri Catholici, London 
Highland Lore and Legend, paraphrased by Ian Malcolm. Mac- 
millan Co., London. 

Violet Rays and Other Poems, by Olive Allen Robertson, G. P. 
Putnam's Sons. 

Gossamer ed Glory, by Ida Elaine James, Poetry Publishers. 
Philadelphia^ 

Walk the Earth, by Ruth Anderton. Priv. ptd., New York City. 
Within the Cructhles by Sophie Himmell. Wings Press, New York. 

PROSE, TRA^rSLATIONSk AND AN ANTHOLOGY: 

Further Letters of Gerard Manley Hopkins, Edited by Claude 
Colleer Abbott Oxford Univ. Press, 

Jlknsion and Realtty: A Study of the Sources of Poetry, by Chris- 
topher Caudwell. Macmillan k Co., London. 

Poetry and Crisis, by Martin Turnell. Sandat The Paladin Press, 
London. 

The Hew Ireland, by J. B, Morton. Sands: The Paladin Press, 
London. 

Lost Angel and Other Poems, by Pedro Salinas. Translated by 
ipjeapor L. Tm^bnlL The John HopHna Press, Baltimore, 
Poetry House Anthology, Edited by Michael Everett. Poetry 
N. Y. C 


[ 306 ] 




When writing to advertisers please mentkm POBTttY 




POETRY: A Magazine of Verse 

— is publishing the verse and prose of the most interesting 
younger writers; 

R, P* Blackmur, Reuel Denney, Kenneth Feating, Robert Fitz- 
gerald, Franklin Fol$om, Alfr^ Hayes, Stanley Kunitz, Ruth 
Lechlitner, Janet Lewis, Willard Maas, C. F. MacIntyre, 
H. B. MaUalieu, Louis MacNeice, Samuel French Morse, 
William Pillin, Harold Rosenberg, Muriel Rukeyser, D. S. 
Savage, David Schubert, Marshall Schacht, Delmore Shwartz, 
Stephen Stepanchev, Jesse Stuart, T. C. Wilson, and others, 

— will continue to present the new work of established 
writers : 

W. KL Auden, Louise Bogan, T* S. Eliot, Robert Frost, H. D., 
Horace Gregory, Alfred Kreymborg, Agnes Lee, C. Day Lewis, 
Ardubald Ma^eish, Edgar Lee Masters, Edna St. Vincent 
Millay, Marianne Moore, Carl Sandburg, Isidor Schneider, 
Wallace Stevens, Allen Tate, Eunice Tietjens, Mark Turbyfill, 
John Wheelwright, W. C Williams, Editnund Wilson, Yvor 
Winters, Emth Wyatt, William Butler Yeats, and others, 

— will review the significant new books while they are new, 

- — is now in its second quarter-century of continuous publi- 
cation- 

— will hold to its policy of publishing verse and criticism 
^ reficcring the most vital trends in contemporary thought. 


PoiTltT, Saat Erie St, Chicago, IIL 

find) |3. Please send me Poetbx for one year. 





mion ^ The WS fodty ($3.00>, the hmm 




Vol. LII 26th Year of Publication No. VI 

POETRY for SEPTEMBER 1938 

Five Poems Abhie Huston Evans S07 

Country Miracle — Slow Gain — First Night of Fall — 
Timers Citizen — ^To a Forgotten Dutch Painter 

Seascape Ralph Gustafson 313 

Poem Julian Symons 314 

Quiet Morning Elhaheth Rohm 318 

Stone Walls — ^The Unknown — ^Waste — ^The Milkweed Pod 
— September Water 

To a Stranger in Passing .... W. G. Van Keuren 321 

Two Poems Herman Gund 322 

Carnival — Queens 

Inbred Carl Bomherger 323 

Three Poems • * May Levois 324 

Circular Pattern— Progress — Strikers 

Mediterranean Michael Roberts 327 

The Past Is Dragging Statues Oscar Williams 328 

The Spritely Dead — ^Independence Day— The Dream — 
“Why the Sea Is Salt** — ^Portrait of Reality — ^Man and 
Squirrel — Summer Day 

The God in the Car Harold Rosenberg 334 

A Letter from Archibald MacLeish 342 

Another Chance ^^ra Found 344 

Reviews ; 

A Lost Address . . ... Babette Deutsch 347 

More of the Same ... ... Rolfe Humphries 351 

Well-made Lyrics Anne Channing 354 

“Every Word Is Intentional** . . Edgar Lee Masters 356 

News Notes . * 

Notes on Contributors 3^2 

Books Received 364 

The Pegasus on the Cover by Eric Gill 

Publuiheci moathly. Editonal and Publication Offices, ^2 East Eric 
Chicago. Illinois. Eastern Business Rcpscscntattve, Aniy Bonper, 12 
Street! New Yoric Qty Yearly subscription rates: In die United St#^, 

Cuba and Amencan Possessions $3.00; m all other countries in the Postal Union, 
$3 25 

Manuscripts must be accompanied by a stamj^ sdf'addresscd fenveli^, or by 
intematkmal coupons from writers living abroad; otherwise we must dewne to 
return them. Payment is made on publication. ^ 

second class matter, November 15, 1912, at the postoffice at Chreagp, 
Illinois, under Act oi March 3. 1879. 

Copyright, 1938^ by W. S. Monroe and E, S, f etcher, Executors 
All rights reserved 




POETRY 

A MAGAZINE OF VERSE 

VOL. LII NO. VI 

SEPTEMBER 1938 


FIVE POEMS 


COUNTRY MIRACLE 

A S I came over the rise by Stewart's ash 

In the evening early, and caught sight of home, 
I stopped two fields ofiE, seeing what I saw: 

The Hustons and the Cosmos in such bright 
Concatenation as had never been. 

Ten odds to one, since first there was a Huston. 

In the empty sky above the open hill 
A cockle-shell of cloud the length of the roof 
(No other in the whole sky anywhere) 

Himg low above the old bright lamp-lit house 
That rayed out yellow light from every window. 
It was the kind of cloud angels would crowd on 

[ 307 ] 



POETRY : A Magazine of Verse 


In an old painting — Giotto knew the kind — 

More raft than cloud ; it barely cleared the chimney, 
Cusped with a crescent moon, pranked with a planet. 


Incredible juxtaposition, stylized, fleeting! 

I never saw so pointed a fable, so narrowed 
A doing of nature’s, as that night I saw 
(So pointed a fable, with so hid a meaning) : 
Forefathers’ roof, cloud, moon, and Jupiter 
Whirled in together for a moment of time 
In the enormous scheme, to whirl apart forever. 


— Why single out the Hustons, why stoop down 
Thus to their hill-head, take their roof for a 
measure? 

If chance had done this thing, then chance was greater 
Than I had any idea of^ more to be feared. 

Not that it happened on the billionth cast. 

But that I saw it, made the miracle; 

Whedier a hall-mark of authentication 
(And seals are made of elements as simple^ 

Earning signiflcance from ne^hborhood), 

Or a wild throw ot the diqe that turned up doubles? 
Before ^aaEtlql eyes, one thing Was certain: 



Ahbte Huston Evans 


No Woodward, Jones or Baker could have seen 
What I saw plain. It was a sight for Hustons. 


Pulled in by taut wires — ^man, moon, cloud, and planet 
(Man the last comer by the tick of a heart-beat) — 
We met, blind allies punctual to the minute, 

As I came over the rise by Stewart^s ash. 


SLOW GAIK 

The silky sweetness of a full-blown thistle 
Is arrowy, goes in deep, 

Turns to felt truth, a latter-day Epistle, 
Becomes a Law to keep. 


Aprils lived through, Julys and fierce Decembers, 
Let down a silt, a dust 

Of gold, like brooks. — Truth lodged thus in our 
members 

Is the truth to trust. 


{ 309 ] 



POETRY : A Magazine of Verse 

FIRST NIGHT OF FALL 
(Hunter’s Hill) 

Earth might look like this to an angel flying over, 

Twice as deep-seen, bright-seen, as our eyes are used to. 
Doubtless hills the Flood drenched looked so that first 
summer ! 

Through the air of crystal, see the end-on corn-field 
Twisting up the steep slope like a Roman ribbon. 

And the killed fir, singled by the low sun, kindling 
At the bottom of the crimson on the eastern shoulder. 


Across a field of shadow to a hill of brightness 
Looking mortal-eyed for a deathless minute. 

Chill rising round me, dahlias marked for dying 
In a rank before me, soon to be cut off, 

I, till now immortal, know all in a minute 
How short the shift of life is, how sharp the knife is 
whetted. 


TIMERS CITIZEN 

Do things matter still? — They matter. 
Cut-shape, color, chime. 

By felt things I know I am 
TTie citizen of Time. 


13101 



Abhie Huston Evans 


Such all but fingerable life 
Lets in no doubt at all; 

Tied to the stem, I am a leaf 
Secure against the fall. 


When the day comes I no more flinch 
At dawn’s edge coming on, 

Staggered as by the ice-cap’s shift 
I’ll know that Time is gone. 


TO A FORGOTTEN DUTCH PAINTER 

The wheat-straw hangs down broken; the nicked leaf 
Deploys on air; the snails drag shells like trinkets; 
And Master Fly sits in his spot of sun 
Upon the yellowing leaf. — This tells me all. 


You are a poet, for you love the thing 
Itself. In twenty ways you make me know 
You dote on difference little as that which sets 
Berry apart from berry in the handful. 

— ^“How singular is nigh-identical!" 

You cry to dullards; given eyes, we sec 

The split pod or the briared vine house contraries 


[ 311 ] 



POETRY: A Magazine of Verse 


Narrowly opposite m a tent of sameness 
(Not one but has its urgency upon it). 

— *“In deep, at the pith, where life makes push, it sits, 
The I, the me, the myself, of the cherry,” 

You say so plain that I can never doubt it; 

— “Sit down before a dover-head,” you say, 

^*As if it were a city to be taken. 

Invest it round. There is but little hope.” 

— “The poppy-seed is a commodious place,” 

You urge, and prove it; I behold for you 
The negligible ort assume its state 
And bridle like a girl looked on with love. 


Though all must be whelmed under, yet on the brink 
These keep a slippery foothold for a while ; 

Safe still your darling seed-wafts, drupes and umbels. 
Your purpling gooseberry hung by a hair 
Has faced down doom; doom looked twice, and went 
by. . . . 

The thing loved well carries the mark upon it. 

It outbeams radium. And time lets it be. 

Abbie Huston Evani 


[ 312 ] 



SEASCAPE 


Soon will the lonely petrel 
Bank upon my thought 
And I shall watch again 
Him lay a wing against the heart. 

Ocean-shirker land-shorn 
Sinewed on headlong air 
Shall flaunt his flight mnemonic 
To my solid flesh, my fear 

Oh then, as he, claim ocean. 

Parallel the thimderous wave 
In mad heroics make 
O my soul your glorious leave 

Now as this bird 
The wilderness of ocean 
Wings, one with prophetic 
Joy, the midnight’s acclamation! 

Oh suddenly! or I 
Within my fearful thought 
Oh I shall know, shall know 
Love lay a i^ing along the heart. 

Ralph Gustafsm 


[ 313 ] 



POETRY : A Magazine of Verse 


POEM 

For Herbert and Marjorie Mallalieu 

Sitting in the garden where the shadows waver 
I imagine myself a hero, a martyr or sea-rover. 

Out of a world of clocks and trains 
My office-troubled fancy turns 

To the pretty mental photographs the dull laugh over. 


Sitting in the garden I am one of those 
Who are not disposed of, but who dispose ; 

Napoleon, Roosevelt, Henry Ford, 

The autocratic whose assured 
Magnificence may justify their darling pose. 

But time in dealing with these splendid figures 
Touches them as candidly as pimps or beggars. 

Shows up the trickery, the engineered fall, 

The dirty words on the lavatory wall, 

The treacherous agreement and the lucky wagers. 

Nothing is here to alter or disturb 
My search for the active or the passive verb, 

But in this garden sitting at ease 

Under the tangled curling trees 

I recall the awkward omens, those that still perturb. 


[ 314 ] 



Julian Symons 


In a life looking backward the eventual course 
Was selected in childhood by the sense of loss 
Involved in leaving a familiar room, 

The remembered wickedness, remembered doom, 

The offence against the Holy Ghost committed twice. 

Looking in childhood through uncandid eyes 
I saw without emotion and without surprise 
The splendid and remote ideal 
Not wished, the shabby and the real 
Accepted, the commonplace preferred to the wise. 

In the garden playing soldiers I was in revolt 
Against the second piece of marzipan, the heavy quilt, 
Injustice that I did not dare 
Object to, the unparted hair, 

The stolen money lied about, the face of guilt. 

Later in a schoolroom I learned to move 
To a bell or a stick, be discreet and grave. 

I was head monitor and knew the answer 
To the difficult equation and the cause of cancer. 
Swinging a cricket bat, I talked of love. 

Fielding at short leg or at deep mid-on 
I knew a life was over and a life begun, 

Found that the agony of toudi 


[3151 



POETRY: A Magazine of Verse 


Goes further than the tongue can reach 

And the silence and the gesture and the word are wrong. 

For behold the fingers^ fluttering, the body’s shiver, 

The darkened mind is wondering why or whether; 

Love is not Beauty or Creation 
But vacant as a railway station 
Is existent only in the will of the lover. 

Educated now to the dream and the distortion, 

The truthful lie and the sincere evasion, 

The subtle and particular charm 
That mothers us and works us harm, 

I examine my resources and review the position. 

Too late for me now the uncomplicated faith, 

The raised-fist marching and the missionary death, 

The accurate scientist straight as a crow 
Cutting a path through rock or snow, 

The wonderful illusion or the simple life. 

For the sensitive heart and the cultivated mind 

Itnow the fairy tale is false but will never lift the blind 

To ^ skeptical and calm, 

The dream is final, nitd wts come 
To face the deadly faces in a hostile land. 


[ 316 ] 



Julian Symons 


Yours is not my world then, I shall be in opposition 
To the gay recruits singing and the barked decision. 

You whom I laugh with, live with, love, 

Will find that when the barriers give 
I shall fight against you in the hopeless action. 

In the meantime I can give you the tree’s tall shadow 
Threatening the garden, and the mind’s pathetic meadow; 
I can give you the attractive lunar valley 
Where the lucky rest in Gambler’s Folly 
And enchanted bodies wait under the crying willow; 

I can give you the heart’s eagles and the singing bough, 

The swan song of a dying world, its clatter and row. 

What an eye can see and a brain record 
And a hand put down in a halting word. 

Sitting in the garden I can offer you now. 


Julian Symons 



POETRY: A Magazine of Verse 


QUIET MORNING 

STONE WALLS 

Stone walls seem gathered not by men 
But by some older force, 

As if the bills had driven them 
In slow flocks from the grass. 

And since the heavy boulders come 
Of low and ancient birth 
They never learn the will of men 
To stand aloof from earth 

But peacefully disintegrate 
Under the orchard boughs 
And up and down the pastures 
Beside the dozing cows* 


THE UNKNOWN 

In mystery the ocean’s heart 
Pulses green and azure stains 
And all the teeming creatures dart 
Like corpuscles along its veins. 


1318] 



Elizabeth Bohm 


Its mockeries of air conceal 
Soft forests terrible with teeth; 
Squids* chilly pearly eyes; the eel 
Ribboned in a deathly wreath; 

And little silent stars that creep 
Among the rocks, give birth and die, 
Like dreams within the watery sleep 
Washing all their millions by. 

The plantlike clam, the living star, 
Were old before men saw the sun; 
Before huge lizards tracked in tar 
Their brief development was done. 

As cool as midnight and as wide 
With thoughts we do not understand, 
In slowly gleaming folds the tide 
Draws its curtains on the sand. 


WASTE 

Beside my foot the world of sand is specked 
With tiny empty shells* It is all one grave. 

There arc purple dots, and white, and yeUow-flecfced, 
Bones of the infinite foundlings of a wave. 


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POETRY : A. Magazine of Verse 


With what a lavish loss the colored seed 
Comes floating up the braiding surf to die ! 

O twirling snail and bottle-green sea-weed 
And sound of foam, you cannot tell me why 


THE MILKWEED POD 

Someone tore this milkweed pod asunder 
To find the wet white silk within, and plunder 

In another week the leathered case would crack, 
The globes inflate before their wide blue track; 

Slowly the pod would open, letting fly 
Transparent chains of pearls across the sky. 

But unknown hands were curious, and so 
Autumn cannot spend one purse of snow. 


SEPTEMBER WATER 

In the quiet sunlight of September 
The harbor’s top is blond and burnished stone. 
Any Swipwcr who cuts that width of Stillness 
Is scaxfdxA Wffh cold to the marrow of the bone. 

I 

The tide no lonjgey rustles; onljr waiting 
Holds it as a gleam holds dormant bells. 



Elizabeth Bohm 


It gives its calm attention to a pink crab 
Or to the far-down pearl of mussel shells. 

The swimmer floats over henna sand and brown sand. 
The calico print of every pebble is clear. 

He feels the faint hostility of winter 
Flavoring the water with a fear. 

Elizabeth Bohm 


TO A STRANGER IN PASSING 

. . . So spread we deathward, out; whirling apart^ 
Exploding, useless, lost: no faith can piece 
The countless fragments of the central heart, 

The shattered atom old, and bring surcease, 

No love. Though all have tried through all the years, 
Though force cries out to force insatiate. 

The impulse conquers; distances and fears 
Grow ever greater — ^we are separate. 

Think not, my friend, that I would dwell alone, 
Beyond your reach, behind my careful face, 

If we could hope to talk, but this is known, 

There is no way to close the inner space: 

For all the facile words at our command. 

There is no language two can understand. 

fF, (r. Fan Keuren 


[ 321 ] 



POETRY : A Magazine of Verse 


TWO POEMS 

CARNIVAL 

I have seen the crowds fade away 
and the ferris-wheel come 
to a creaking halt 
and the engines gasp 
their last weak sputter — 

I have seen the lights dimmed 
and the stands covered up 
and the last explosive car 
spurt into darkness. 

I have heard the parting shouts 
echo into fantastic silence. 

I have seen the trampled grass 
smothered in the oppression 
of loneliness and the crickets 
come forth — have seen the night 
reclaim its own. 


QUEENS 

A star upsets and swims into her purple 
eyes but she is not alone with her desire. 

Asocial feeling agitates her friend: 
‘TEt^osiej if you pidc that rose, Fll tell !^* 

{ 322 ] 



Herman Gund 


“O can’t I pick a single one?” 

‘‘I’m going!” is the oblique no* 

Such cowardice has force upon the bold. 
Unplucked the rose remains. 

wish our garden had a rose,” says Rose 
and to her thornless garden wishing goes. 

Herman Gund 


INBRED 

Now gazing sidewards toward the sea 
of battered light and boisterous sound, 
somehow a vastness suddenly 
crowds back the narrow walls of me — 
breathless, I look around. 

What had been flat monotony 
of sky and sea and passive shore, 
now blinds me with new brilliancy — 

I had forgotten these cpuld be 
my blood and brain once more ! 

Carl Bamberger 


[3231 



POETRY : A Magazine of Verse 


THREE POEMS 

CIRCULAR PATTERN 

From my high window I see 

white smoke blowing and 

black smoke blowing and 

sea-gulls fl3dng and 

river flowing 

and men high up, aloof, 

mending a roof* 

And white men spading the ground 
and black men spading the ground; 
I hear the pick-ax’s sound; 

I see the day unwound. 

And white smoke ploughing the air 

and black smoke ploughing the air 

and vanishing there; 

and bones deep in the ground, 

cold and aloof 

under a tight roof; 

and I hear the pick-ax Time 

chopping the clock’s chime. 


[ 324 ] 



May Lewis 


PROGRESS 

Old, gay, she sat with me beside the burning log ; 

The comfortable dog lay at our feet; 

We drank our tea, . . . 

The room was filled with her; 

Erect, alert, 

One who had faced all challenges unhurt, 

Who now was warmly, thoroughly fulfilled 
With life as life had willed. 

No droop betrayed the mouth 
Nor slacked the muscles of the sensitive hand 
That taut or tender at the hours’ demand 
Had moulded circumstance. 

The eyes’ quick glance, like a free bird 
Direct from bough to bough, 

Flew from the past, as we agreed that now 
The angles of the world were strangely twisted: 

“But it grows better,” she insisted; 

I raised a skeptic’s brow. 

“Ages ago,” she said, “I won a prize 
For geometric drawing.” 

The dim eyes shone: 

“I noticed then : however fine the point of compass pen 
Or firm the hand to dose a circular line — 


[3251 



POETRY : A Magazine of Verse 


The end, seen through a magnifying glass, 
Invariably would overpass the start, a fraction : 
The spiral’s mounting action had begun.” 

She smiled: “A neat, authentic sign, 

That unescapable upward twist 
That flows, in spite of man, 

Through the blind channel of the human wrist.” 


STRIKERS 

Altogether these wills bind 

and what was scattered forms into a wall ; 

the factory’s iron mind 

batters a barrier a thousand years tall. 

These wills locked, stronger than iron or stone, 
slow-gathering 4^ Last, the imperative of the slave, — 
they are not themselves but the future. 

Nature has cast 

and welded this pattern deep in the tidal wave. 

May Lewis 


[ 326 ] 



MEDITERRANEAN 


The iris twists its root within the socket, 

Darkness burns in the desert air, 

Under the shimmering rock small creatures leer, 

Ruin moves like a squadron in the stars. 

The neon lights reflected in the rain, 

The rattle of the tram, the rolling train, 

The emerald silence of the tropic bay. 

Burn with the desperate currents of our time. 

The world turns over; the cactus and the pine 
Glint on the shining coast and desert frontier, 
Battleships ride at anchor, and their hulls 
Quench the blue sunlight on the dancing wave. 

Here, as a man stands up 

On the raised beaches of the world, Gibraltar stands, 
The ships move east and west, the cactus burns, 

And deeper currents move maternal ocean. 

Michael Roberts 


[ 327 ] 



POETRY : A Magazine of Verse 
THE PAST IS DRAGGING STATUES 


THE SPRITELY DEAD 

There was a man within our tenement 
Who died upon a worn down step of day: 

The wreath they hung upon the doorway meant 
That there was nothing else for him to do. 

But he was obstinate, he would not rest : 

He dragged the flesh of silence everywhere 
On crippled wings, and we would hear him whir 
While on our memory’s sill his eyes would roost. 
We saw him wring his thoughts in deep despair 
And stamp the color from our backyard scene: 
Careless, without his body, he would peer 
To find out if we noticed this new sin. 

He was afraid, afraid : he climbed our vines 
And hid, on hands and knees, along our veins. 


INDEPENDENCE DAY 

The patriotic day explodes, and ten million hydra heads 
Swarm from the decapitated headlines on to the beds 
Of the frightfully awake who dimb down into halls of heat 
While the exhausted weather butters out the street. 


[328J 



Oscar Williams 


The people standing silently at the curb are waiting for 
a bus: 

Be careful, don’t touch these people: this group is ominous: 

If you look closely you’ll see that they are not standing, 

They are dancing, alive like lava, at time’s ending. 

The bus has just fallen on its studied rubber knees 

And gulps these people through its national arteries: 

It gets up with no neck broken or other defections 

But casts haggard eyes, from both sides, in all directions. 

Look further and you’ll know it is riding an ocean of worms, 

That the waves are self explosive and will not come to 
terms : 

Though these people are on their way to the day after 
tomorrow. 

They look over the edge to see from whom they can 
borrow — 

They want to borrow the timber for a raft of faith on the 
deep 

Where the baleful hydra heads make it seem appallingly 
steep, 

Where the wind is full of sl^, and the heyday fireworks leap 

Over the nation fitfully turning in its frightful sleep* 


[ 329 ] 



Oscar Williams 


It is no rainfall splashing quoits — ^that^s clear! — 
It is a sound within the house we hear, — 

The headline breaks, and out a nation gushes. 

And bugles’ clouds like giant mushrooms blow 
Along the golden airways down the mind: 

Out of our house oblivion’s billows flow, — 

The mills of the gods grind slowly, but not so 
The appalling world upon the radio 
Pouring its iron tides upon mankind. 

And now, now, the machine now cannot stop 
Exploding brimstone on the music’s stair ; 

The earth is filling, filling to the top, 

No room now for the cyclops in the shop 
Nor elsewhere at the gargoyle curtain drop 
Of faces headlong on the final air. 


PORTRAIT OF REALITY 

The ear, a fox, emerges from a cloud 
of thunder perched above the universe: 
the European hemline in the crowd 
crows copper morning from a hidden hearse. 

Out of the ftesh the j^ed glass pirotrudes: 
the sky is gleaming in tte broken lenses 

[ 331 } 



POETRY: A Magazine of Verse 


tapping the blood of giant platitudes; 
scarred by hallucinations, roam three tenses. 

Through mists of moss, the future's tom-toms come : 
the past is dragging statues through the rain: 
the present lives in spirals, hiding from 
the starlight at the eyeballs of the brain : 

the Buzzard's two great eyes of sun and moon 
pop from the iron forehead of high noon. 


MAN AND SQUIRREL 

I walk through soggy hallways of the rain 
And, past the bins of dried up daily bread. 
Meander to the pavements of the dead 
With a glass squirrel chewing in my brain. 

Its trembling paws adroitly turn and nurse 
The fastened thought upon its screwed up features, 
And with the long range eyes of silent creatures 
It looks right through me at the universe. 


There comes a sound of planets and of power 
tJpon the sloped horizon^s grassy eaves: 

And can I stand, and will the brain endure 

f332} 



Oscar Williams 


With stars stampeding down my final hour? 
Of this, however, I am not quite sure. 

My squirrel scurries up a cloud of leaves. 


SUMMER DAY 

There is a snowfall of daylight in my room: 

Higher and higher it piles; 

It falls on everything, deep into glow of wood, 

Into the crevices it files . , . 

Into shine of rug, up the books, against walls, 

Sloping down mind, in blue air, 

Layer after layer, mount these flakes of radiance, 
Drifting everywhere,^ — 

Until I’m suffocated under the snow hills of light, 

And my veins would freeze 
And I’d be buried but that I run for shelter 
Under the deep awnings of green trees. 

Oscar Williams 


im 



POETRY : A Magazine of Verse 


THE GOD IN THE CAR 

E very analysis of modern literature that strives to b 
serious reaches somewhere in its course a discussio 
of the social crisis. It is by this question that the focus o 
contemporary minds is measured. 

For poetry, the crisis appears in a dual form — ^as a mate 
rial crisis and as a crisis of faith. The latter might be calle< 
the religious side of the crisis, the crisis in the image cas 
upon the mind by a world of unrest, which is expressed a 
a breakdown of faiths and loyalties. There is also the actua 
physical crisis ; unemployment, suppression, war, socia. 
conflict 

The religious side of the crisis manifested itself in poetry 
long before the material one— in this sense the spirit has 
been prophetic. Bread-lines, strikes and working class or- 
ganization are newcomers to poetry? worship and doubt 
have been large themes for many years. '^A gut me louerf" 
cried Rimbaud in Une Satson en Enfer. ^'Quelle bUe faut-il 
adorer To whom shall I hire myself? What beast must 
be worshipped? 

While awaiting, however, the descent of faith, of the 
ravisher who would not find it ungrateful (to paraphrase 
La Forgue), poetry acquired much knowledge, great and 
small. It discovered and noted concrete relations in many 
fields — objects, techniques, wordr-magic, sensations, dreams, 
Art. Feeling itsdf surrounded by vast forces, it searched all 
disciplines, enacted all doubts and convictiom. A unique 

[ 334 ] 



The God in the Car 


posture of alertness, in unexpected situations and in situa- 
tions unexpectedly familiar, identified the various styles 
which became known as modern. 

If this probing of the actual was intended to be provi- 
sional — ^until the apparition of the Beast to be worshipped 
— ^it had the effect of draining poetry of the unexpended 
spiritual gases accumulated during the early days of middle 
class revolutionary enthusiasm. It had the further effect of 
acclimatizing poetry within those orders of knowledge ob- 
tained through research and observation. No longer was 
the poet’s learning conceived as the reflex of a pure poetic 
Ego; that nature had lodged the imiversal Truths within 
the hearts and biographies of poets remained the conviction 
only of those who adored poetry from a distance. Poetry’s 
religious hopes had expressed themselves, more or less unwit- 
tingly, as a scientific foraging. 

Yet, until quite recently, the poet’s approach to science, 
history, politics continued to be religious — he appropriated 
from these studies only the myths which they projected 
within him. In themselves, these disciplines were felt to be 
dangerous and inimical to poetry. The poet feared being 
drawn away and alienated from himself, ^ all other pro- 
ducers of useful objects are subdued and mane alien by their 
labors within the present organization of production. 

Thus, if poetry became ‘'pure” and detached from social 
activity and social responsibility, it was not throia^ an act 
of perverse free will or inhuman callousness. The poet and 
his art were pushed into a comer by eoMaonuc and soc^ 

[3351 



POETRY : A Magazine of Verse 


forces which he long ago recognized and hated, but the true 
human meaning of which he is just now beginning to under- 
stand. 

Just now! For though its religious shadow still con- 
tinues and no doubt will continue to follow it in the form 
of individual faith-seeking, poetry has at last come to focus 
its attention upon the real body of the social crisis. Today, 
poetry has begun to overcome its timidity towards historic 
and economic analysis, and even to find a deep fraternity 
with these enemies of yesterday. 

Archibald MacLeish’s In Challenge Not Defense 
(Poetry, July 1938) is therefore faithful to the temper of 
its time when it considers hunger and unemployment as a 
matter of concern for poetry. One might say that he had 
glanced at society from an economic and historical point of 
view before applying to its dilemmas the solvent of his 
poetic will. For to his mind the crisis “is a crisis of hunger,” 
and, moreover, of hungeT which the wealth of the modern 
world is capable of eliminating. 

But having traveled to this point with the contemporary 
movement in poetry, MacLeish relapses at once into a ret- 
rogressive religious interpretation of modern life. With 
one quick gjance at the real world of the crisis he returns to 
the search for the Beast. But now faith will save not only 
the poet but society as well. The very fact, MacLeish 
argues, that the material crisis is not imposed by the mate- 
rial poverty of mankind means that the crisis has no mate- 

[ 336 ] 



The God in the Cm' 


rial explanation and will not be solved by material means. 
Sufficient wealth exists, therefore wealth and the manner in 
which it is produced is not the problem. 

The real “heart of the crisis,” says the faith-seeker, is a 
spiritual matter, a question of Poetry. “The failure is a 
failure of spirit,” Men must make themselves over, through 
poetry make themselves capable of belief. 

From this premise MacLeish reaches the conclusion that 
history and economics have nothing to teach us. “Mathema- 
ticians of the mob,” the province of the economists is the 
past. Fascism, however, has conquered economics and the 
past of Germany and Italy by a deed of the imagination. 
Historians are, by profession, partisans of necessity; but to 
poetic humanity all things are possible. If you wish author- 
ity for this MacLeish concludes, you may have it: it was 
Aristotle who “distinguished poetry from history,” saying — 
“history draws things which have happened but poetry 
things which may possibly happen.” 

That for the first time in history the hunger and strife 
of humanity have no longer any material foundation is a 
great radical truth. It is a truth that was not discovered 
by poetry but by economic and historical analysis* As a 
major fact of our epoch, it has many hximan impUcarfons 
which we may expect poetry to reveal. With this 
edge as a starting-poiiiit poets will go far toward an undec^ 
standing of the tragedies of the past, the pacesent ^d tJbe 
future. But having touched the physical reality of 
modern world MacLeish leaps to cover its nakedness with 

[ 337 ] 



POETRY: A M a g a zin e of Verse 


the veil of religion* To him the contradiction of the world’s 
wealth signifies — contempt for economic and historic ne- 
cessit 7 in the name of Poetry. 

Filled with this contempt, the message of poetry becomes 
the old pulpit-admonition: “The failure is a failure of the 
spirit.” “The entire cause lies in the hearts of men.” 
Only God — ^the word alone having been changed to Poetry 
— will deliver us I 

One would have felt ill at ease in stressing the logic by 
which MacLeish’s assumption of the need to reject the 
understanding of historical process leads to the major con- 
clusions of fascist thought. Whatever his reasoning, Mac- 
Lebh is not a fascist, nor does he intend to aid fascism 
— ^and with individuals logic is often less significant than 
intention. So there would be no point in coupling Mac- 
Lcish’s ideas with those of the fascists had he not himself 
founded his spiritualism upon the accomplishments of fas- 
cism : “In Germany and Italy where men, some men, enough 
men to have power, have imagined life-like melodramas to 
take up the kdt of life, the world’s economists have been 
made to look like infants ” Hitler, too, denies that it is 
possible to set a limit to the “creative” aspirations of the 
German folk. 

MadLekh f«}ects the conception of the social and eco- 
nomfe imehmesr of Germany and Italy on the evidence 
that theses oonntries have not literally fallen to piec^ but 
have^sucCeeded m arming themselves for murderous attacks 
fti Spain 4iid Ethiopia. To him a whve ^f life has been 

vm] 



The God in the Car 


rqlled up there by poetry, even if this poetry is deadly and 
destructive. 

But what is this arming and murdering but the political 
program of economic insolvency? The events of the past few 
years have demonstrated conclxisively that Super-Economics 
is driven along the road, not of Poetry, but of imperialist 
necessity. To accept fascism’s victory over economic neces- 
sity is to ignore the historic compulsions which force it inev- 
itably to plunge the world deeper and deeper into chaos. 
Further, to insist upon Germany’s and Italy’s ‘^freedom” in 
this instance, is to charge all the crimes already committed 
by fascism to an inherent viciousness in the German and 
Italian imagination. 

In discarding the scientific assertion of fascism’s insolv- 
ency, MacLeish is like one who calls physicians quacks be- 
cause a patient dying of cancer ‘^never looked better in his 
life.” 

The faith and the image are everj^ing, cries the poetic 
Challenger, the means, the tactics, are the concerns of paltry 
souls. “What diis country needs is a good poem,” said 
Herbert Hoover in 1932. “Its absence is the crisis,” echoes 
Archibald MacLeish (bis italics). “The issue between a 
planned economy and an econmny called free is not m issue. 
. . . The fact that we can talk of them a& thou^ they touiADd 
the life and death of ©Ur society memly betrays the poverty 
of our minds. Actually the issue, the cme issue, we^iAi 
talk about is this: What do we love? To what do W» 
de^re to be loyal? Ouce we know the answ^ to ihBKt 



POETRY : A Magazine of Verse 


question everything will follow of itself,’^ 

A gut me loner f Poetry’s old search for loyalties is thus 
projected into society as a whole. And by a quick reversal 
the poet-as-seefcer is converted into the Poet Leader, 

Here poetry flings into the discard all the great acquisi- 
tions of its doubts. By such pretensions it will empty itself 
of content and lose its capacity to learn from and participate 
in social events. For the nature of these events is deter- 
mined historically and economicdly, not by poetic faith- 
seeking. There is no lack of desire in the broad masses — 
desire for peace, for security, for decent living conditions, 
for social participation. There is no lack of conviction in 
the people that they want freedom and education. It is the 
means they are seeking. And by feeling for the means with 
which to be loyal to themselves, the historic masses provide 
the answer of reality to the religious questionings of the 
modern poetic ^‘tradition.” 

“The defense of poetry in this time is a challenge. It is 
a challenge to all those who quarrel about the means by 
which the people shall be saved to hold their tongues and be 
silent until the poets shall have given the people speech.” 

Surely MacLei^ spoke these words without forethought. 
Yet when one considers what has happened in this country 
and in tibe rest of the world during the past few years, it 
is difficult to be patient with such insolence, no matter how 
^innocent” Take America alone: what was the original 
spKt with the A. F. of L. which enabled the CIO to or^n- 
fce millions of weprkera hut a ‘‘quarrel about the mcan^”? 

[ 340 ] 



The God in the Car 


What is the effort towards unity today but a quarrel about 
the means? What was the sit-down strike but a mass-inven- 
tion of a means ? One must have put aside past and present 
and fixed his gaze firmly on the problem of how to be 
''saved** to be capable of such contemptuous counsel. 

Let it be said, too, that MacLeish was most misguided 
in quoting Aristotle as authority for his "poetic** notion that 
all things are possible. Aristotle*s conception of the content 
of poetry — ^his conception of its rdle has to do not with pos- 
sibility but with purgation — ^is the exact opposite of unlim- 
ited possibility. He said : "a poet*s object is not to tell what 
actually happened but what could and would happen either 
probably or inevitably . . . one [the historian] tells what 
happened and the other [the poet] what might happen. 
For this reason poetry is something more scientific and seri- 
ous than history, because poetry tends to give general truths 
while historygives particular facts.** (Myitalics. Fyfe*s trans.) 

No, not all things are possible. Possible is only that 
which is allowed or compelled by necessity. Poetry is truly 
poetry when its representation of events is more in accord 
with the inevitable than the mere accounts which passed as 
history in Aristotle's day. Poetry is great when it repre- 
sents necessity, was the message of Greek dialectics. Not 
Aristotle but a sentimental and obscurantist pragmatism, in 
which the pleasures of inner stability are the sole melastire 
of the good, is the source and authority of MacLeish’s phi- 
losophy of free poetic poSsibilrty. 

is nothing new for poetry to issue "challenges.** In a 

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POETRY: A Magazine of Verse 


sense* the “challenge” has been the major subject matter of 
poetry during its entire modern career of social impotence. 
As poetry grew small and defenseless its illusions of its own 
significance often reached fantastic heights. The delivering 
of these challenges has never resulted either in fright or 
in any Serious hostility on the part of the enemy. After a 
brief delay, due no doubt to his being busy with running the 
world, the challenged party has responded with applause and 
support for his poetic antagonist. Every Church is main- 
tained by its spiritual foes. 

In those epochs when poetry meshed into the wheels of 
history and exerted its power there it neither demanded 
nor pretended to a superior r61e. It mastered whatever 
science was available* mixed in politics, gossip and religion, 
and in order to know itself studied the past of humanity. 
Tljc importance of poetry today, its challenge if you will, 
i^ in direct proportion to the obligations it assumes and the 
accuracy of its sense of the socially inescapable. Nothing 
was ever made glorious by adopting in advance of battle 
a posture of triumph. 

Harold Rosenberg 

A LETTER FROM ARCHIBALD MacLEISH 
To ike Edifor: 

I oblfee with a rei^y to Mr. Rosenberg’s piece, 
Very busy at the tnoment and besides it pretty well replies 
itsdf. V^m ypu rmt into a blast |ibe this you look for 



A Letter from Archibald MacLeish 

the animus. The animus is stated. It is insolence in me to 
suggest that the poets of this country must give form and 
shape to the imagination of the people because this has al- 
ready been done. What Mr. Rosenberg means is that this 
has already been done by the Marxists. He may be right 
but the trouble is, as a lot of very wise Marxists can tell 
him, that the people of this country don’t know it. 

The rest is all pretty obvious. The straw man antithesis 
between “faith” and scientific economic determinism at the 
beginning won’t fool anyone who has ever seen a straw man. 
Economic determinism is of course a “faith” itself — one 
of the most powerful faiths of our time. As for Hitler and 
Mussolini — it is comforting to know that they are really m 
the rocks. Someone ought to tell them. It would save the 
lives of a lot of American and English and other anti-fascists 
who are fighting them in Spain, to say nothing of the Span- 
iards themselves. All any of us need to do apparently is 
to sit back and wait for the collapse foretold in the books* 
If this were the general Communist position liberals who 
arc making common cause with Communists against fascism 
would do better to stand alone. Fortunately it isn’t. Com- 
munists know as well as other anti-fascists that fasdsm 
is a very real and terrible danger and precisely for the reason 
I state in the article Mr. Rosenberg attach. There remarns 
one last word of heartfelt thanks however. I am an uncour 
sdous fascist again. And I crib my ideas from Herbert 
Hoover. That really ticldes me. 

A, MacL* 

[ 343 ] 



POETRY : A Magazine of Verse 


ANOTHER CHANCE 

^^HERE will be no amelioration in our verse writing 
^ until more attention is paid to melodic line in music, 
by the writers of verse. 

The few composers who have wished to profit by what 
r have done in my operas {Villon and Cavalcanti) have 
not found a body of verbal matter already composed in Eng- 
lish that could serve for the same ends. I mean, definitely, 
that the poetry just is not there to be set to music. 

Chaucer had a l 3 rric technique, Shakespeare used a lyric 
technique in his lyrics, but his dramatic verse was made to 
be declaimed, not sung. A lyric technique with limited 
range existed down through the time of Waller and Cam- 
pion and to Rochester. Browning revived it in a few songs. 
A great many other literary poets simply did not use a lyric 
technique, or if they attempted it, did not develop it very far. 

Without at least the rudiments of musical knowledge it 
seems improbable that anyone will develop it very far. 

The present note annoimces the existence of a laboratory 
where a certain kind of constructive experiment can be 
tested. 1 am not advertising for musical genius nor in any 
way attempting to set limits to its activity. I am announc- 
ing an opening for men who have a certain sort of diligence 
and wish to direct it to a Idnd of musical labor not practiced 
in conservatories known to me, and which — to judge by 
theii? "results and the tendencies in most ciirrent music — is 

[ 344 ] 



Another Chance 


4efinitely (though very possibly unconsciously) opposed by 
them. 

I am interested in melodic line. That is the part of 
music whereto the verse line can adhere. It is the part of 
music which is definitely part of the serious metrist’s tech- 
nique. To know what sort of verbal “melody*’ can be com- 
bined with and welded to the musician’s notes, or whereto 
the latter can weld his notes, it is necessary to know more 
about music than the average versifier has for some time 
cared to know. Symphonic writing, the all too numerous 
attempts to conceal melodic inadequacy and incompetence 
by a multitude of instruments or by a quite clever, though 
often very messy, alternation and variety of instrumental 
conjunctions does not assist in this exploration. 

I am interested in composers who are willing to start 
writing for one, two or three instruments. When they have 
attained sufiicient lucidity in that field, I am in a position to 
have their work played. 

I don’t mean that I want scraps and patches. I doubt if 
any young composer will find a better way of learning his 
job than via d^chifiErage of the bases of great masters, and 
the reduction of old music for small groups of modern and 
available instruments. 

For the student of verbal mdody, the fiddle k the modern 
instrument. And the violin sonata or reduced concerto k 
his most fecund field of experiment. 

The new microphotographic processes, developed under 

[ 3 + 5 ] 



POETRY : A Magazine of Verse 

the tutelage of Cuthbert Lee^, utilizing the Argus Micro- 
film Reader, open, or are about to open, a field of opportunity 
to young composers who can not afford research in Europe. 
The work of Dr. W. Gillies Whittacker of Scottish Acad- 
emy of Music, his editions of William Young and of Pur- 
cell, might indicate the lines on which I believe this work 
should proceed. 

The stagnation in music publishing is due, in part, to 
the decades wherein music has been a separate interest, not 
an integral part of the most active intellectual life. With 
the reintegration of the arts there should be a considerable 
stirring up of the reading of music, even among those of us 
who don’t perform it even in private. 

The lucidity of Vivaldi’s MS., for example, can give con- 
siderable pleasure even if one read it in silence far from an 
ii^stniment. Failing adequate publishing facilities, I can at 
least obtain performance for work that touches a certain 
level. And when the work has been tested in performance 
it ^ould be easier to rouse a publisher's interest. 

I should be glad to see (in particular) reductions of Dow- 
land,, Jenkbs and Vivaldi for fiddle and keyboard, or for 
two fiddles and keyboard, plus ’cello, or for fiddle and 
’cello, or two fiddles without keyboard. Naturally the sim- 
pler the combination the easier it is to obtain a performance 
and a hig^ degiilee of precision in the p^formance. 

I am not loosing Ais as a sq)arate activity, nor do I 

^S4ence Serviice, ^XOl Omsdmtioii Waslaiignm, D. C. 

[ 346 ] 



Another Chance 


suggest that anyone should give up writing poetry to take 
to music* I am suggesting this as exercise for young poets 
who want to learn their own job. National minstrelsy can- 
not be the work of one man alone. The sprouting genera- 
tion should see that Vachel Lindsay was right about some 
things, not in contradiction to, but supplementing the dryest 
and most pedantic experiments made by the undersigned 
back in 1910 or 1911 in verse forms. The imagist activity 
consisted in getting rid of verse-slush and too many ad- 
jectives. As soon as this was done there set in a counter- 
current toward obesity* There is no need to give up any 
good quality. Poetry cannot however be made by the mere 
omission of one or more parts of speech. A knowledge of 
strophic structure could and should assist in the invention 
of structure. The work on musical form should lead to 
verbal composition fit to be set to music. 

Ezra Pound 

REVIEWS 

A LOST ADDRESS 

Selected Poems, by John Gk>tdd Fletcher. Farrar & Rine'^ 
hart* 

C^TY/HO recalls the address now of the Ima^ts?” asked 
VV MacLeish in his Invocation to the Social Muse^ 
Those of us with long memories recall a hospitable place, 
where several people having no real business tibcrc tempo- 
rarily dbecked Acir poetic lugg^:e. Amoi^ these was JeJm 
Gould Fletcher. From the first it was obvious fibao Ihls 

[3471 



POETRY : A Magazine of Verse 


author, while interested in technical experiments, cared little 
for the principles of the group with which he was associated. 
The present volume emphasizes his divergence from them. 
There is not a poem in the book handled with the directness, 
the terse precision, that mark the best work of the school, 
and while some of the early poems are written in “the se- 
quence of the musical phrase”, the later ones incline to fol- 
low “the sequence of the metronome”. Nevertheless, Fletch- 
er’s Selected Poems offer, in however oblique a manner, a 
tribute to imagism. For they exhibit, on page after page, 
the faults against which the group so loudly, so vigorously, 
and not altogether vainly, inveighed. 

Throughout the volume one finds the helpless elision, the 
ineffective inversion, the careless cliche. On the first page 
“’gainst” appears twice, nor does the poet hesitate later to 
write “’mid”, “’neath”, “’gain”, or to speak of thickets 
“where once did climb the wild grape-cables”. Such banali- 
ties as *You were I and I was you”, “haunted by hopeless 
sin”, are not exceptional. In the midst of a piece of rhymed 
prose, the flexible form of which should encourage lively 
writingi^ Fletcher shamelessly asserts, “Life is a dream”. 
Some pieces are marred by rhetorical vagueness, exemplified 
in 

Towards the impossible, 

Towards the inaccessible, 

Towards the ultimate. 

Towards the silence, 

Towards Ae eternal, 

These blossoms go. 

Others make fbt ptbse statements without the saving 



A Lost Address 


touch of a concrete detail, as in the poem mysteriously en- 
titled Elegy on the Building of the Washington Bridge: 

There is a bridge before us we have need 
To build; a bridge whose links 

Are consciousness, whose roadway faith, whose anchoring towers 
Are the flesh acting and the mind that thinks. 

Was there a poet once who wrote about “the pierless bridge” 
of faith? Was there a poet who hymned The Bridget 
Shades of Emily and Hart Crane ! Do you laugh or weep ? 

The book holds a few pieces that continue to please, either 
by the splendor of their imagery or the richness of their 
internal rhymes. Thus, one returns with delight to the 
third section of the opening piece, h radiations j a passage 
which is indeed a complete poem in itself: 

Over the roof-tops race the shadows of clouds; 

Like horses the shadows of clouds charge down the street 
Whirlpools of purple and gold, 

Winds from the mountains of cinnabar. 

Lacquered mandarin moments, palanquins swaying and balancing 
Amid the vermilion pavilions, against the jade balustrades. 

Glint of the glittering wings of dragon-flies in the light. 

Silver filaments, golden flakes settling downwards, 

Rippling, quivering flutters, repulse and surrender, 

The sun broidered upon the rain, 

The rain rustling with the sun. 

Over the roof-tops race the shadows of douds; 

Like horses the shadows of clouds charge down the street 

The Blue Symphony, another early poem, contains a pas- 
sage that skilfully evokes the cold charm of a goblin stream: 

One chuckles by the brook for me; 

One rages under the stone. 

One makes a spout of his moutib; 

One whispers — one is gone. 

[ 349 ] 



POETRY: A Magazine of Verse 


One over there on the water 
Spreads cold ripples 
For me 
Enticingly. 

The vast dark trees 
Flow like bine veils 
Of tears 
Into the water. 

Sour sprites, 

Moaning and chuckling, 

What have you hidden from me? 

But not content to conclude here, the poet adds another six 
lines which blur the picture. Clipper Ships, a prose poem, 
opens stirringly: “Beautifully as a tiered cloud, skysails set 
and shrouds twanging, she emerges from the surges that 
keep running away before day on the low Pacific shore.’' 
But this vividness is not sustained. The two other pieces 
of symphonic prose, The Old South and The Passing of the 
South, are nearer prose than poetry, and the casual rhymes 
are obtrusive. 

The penultimate section of the book consists of thirteen 
elegies, on a variety of subjects which include a transatlantic 
voyage, the Jewish people, Thomas A. Edison, an empty 
skyscraper, the Russian revolution, Tintern Abbey, and T^he 
Last Judgment. Just why Fletcher chooses to call these 
effusions Megids’^ is not clear, though some of them are 
motrfoftd enou^. If is ip these ambitious pieces that one 
easpects to ftnd the poet^s attitude toward the problems of 
his generation stated or implied, but it is not clear whether 
he hopes for “the grreai renewal of the coming ^ring” that 
Wffl flower out reyohltion, or whether hie dbares the bleak 

[ 350 ] 



A Lost Address 


view of Thomas Hardy, to whom he dedicates The Black 
Rock, It is evident that he admires such intransigeants as 
Columbus, Blake, Nietzsche, and Whitman, but the volume 
fails to reveal any integrated philosophy. It is interesting 
to note that one looks in vain for an expression of the view- 
point stated in I Take My Stand, the manifesto of the south- 
ern agrarians with whom Fletcher at one time allied himself. 

The book is flawed, however, less by the poet^s failure to 
declare himself than by the weakness of his execution. The 
good work fails to balance the shocking faults of the vol- 
ume as a whole. Oddly enough, Fletcher saw fit to exclude 
some of his neatest work, as, for example, the delicate hokkus 
from his book of Japanese Prints, While rejecting the les- 
sons that the imagists could have taught him, he has appar- 
ently failed to heed the instructions of the symbolists. His 
is neither the chiselled line nor the musical nuance. He lost 
an address that was worth remembering, and in all his 
further peregrinations found no better home. 

Bahette Deutsth 


MORE OF THE SAME 

New Writing V, Spring 1938. Edited by John Lehmslnn. 
London: Lawrence and Wishart. 

In this fifth number of New Wntmg, edited by John 
Lehmann, by far the most interesting material is that wiiidi 
deals with the lives and ivork of those who ajre acrivtly 
and consciously engaged in promoting the life of the #Qfld 
to come. From Spain, from China, frtm Germany* 

[ 351 ] 



POETRY : A Magazine of Verse 


the forms of the struggle are most dramatic, come these 
soundly written and heartening reports of human decency 
and bravery. Why not come right out and say that the 
most interesting material in this book is that which has to 
do with the lives of members of the Communist Party? 
This would, perhaps, be unfair to Christopher Isherwood’s 
story, The LandauerSj but even here the reader is not ex- 
plicitly satisfied that Bernhard is not a Communist. 

On the other hand, without insisting on cheeriness as an 
esthetic canon, some of the case histories, the tales of village 
idiocy, the photos of proletarian life, seem to me pretty 
dreary. These have a tendency, I think, to backfire, and to 
present pictures of the author rather than the object at 
which he is presumably aiming ; their formulae testify to the 
prevalence, in letters, of the phenomenon of projection. It 
is not unrealistic, I trust, to suppose that the working class 
is a valuable instrument of social change precisely because it 
is not as nervous, dispirited, work-sodden and woe-begone as 
its sympathetic observers among intellectuals are sometimes 
inclined to make out. Two of the Russian stories in the 
collection, the one about shock-tempo, and the one about the 
housing crisis, (this latter to be particularly commended to 
those who think anybody there who criticizes the govern- 
ment gets stood against a wall and shot), have a savor and 
gusto that should be held up to those proletarian writers 
this of social change as something more than a mere 
matter of before and after taking. A third Russian story, 
Liompa, by Yiiri Olcsha, illustrates that the simple declara- 



More of the Same 


trve sentence contains, among its other possibilities, that of 
tedium : 

A rat appeared in the dustbin. In the kitchen they were 
cooking chipped potatoes. The primus stove had been lit 
The life of the primus stove began splendidly: a torch reach- 
ing up to the ceiling. It died a short blue flame. Eggs were 
jumping in the boiling water. One of the lodgers was boiling 
crayfish alone. He picked up a live crayfish with two fingers 
by its middle. The crayfish was a greenish watery color. 
. . . Two or three drops of water suddenly leaked from the 
tap, by themselves. 

This is not all. 

Poetry does not stand out in this collection. C. Day 
Lewis is represented by three characteristic homilies; Stephen 
Spender by translations of the German Bertold Brecht, and 
the Spaniard Miguel Hernandez. This poet, whose work 
has been translated on our side the Atlantic by William 
Carlos Williams and Willard Maas, is, for all his violence 
and rhetorical fury, a vital and passionate young writer. 
The other English poets in the present collection include 
Kenneth Allott, Randall Swingler, and R. B. Fuller. Their 
work, while not as sharply incised as the writing of W. H. 
Auden (who is otherwise unrepresented), nevertheless is 
definitely stamped with his imprint, as is likely to be that of 
every young poet today whose mind and ear arc at all 
sitive. Either that, or Auden has heard piore acutely and 
rendered with sharper point the circumambient voices of tfec 
British isles. 

The mind divided from the working body 

Looks in the bowels and will find diem foul; 

Tbo accurate response is never !ready 

[ 353 ] 



POETRY : A Magazine of Verse 


Aad like a drunken lady 

That foggy membrane called the soul 

Totters along shamefaced and sham and shoddy. 

Or: 

It is not the gaiety nor the psychic hope 
That save us or renews us at this time. 

Illusion can be blown to any shape 
Of pleasure, wit, or sleep. 

Yet though it be intense as steam, 

When it condenses, we shall only weep. 

In such speech it is easier to recognize current than indi- 
vidual idiom. 

Rolfe Humphries 


WELL-MADE LYRICS 

PVinter-bumingj by Lindley Williams Hubbell. Knopf. 

This is the kind of poetry that gives pleasure by fulfilling 
its own requirements. It knows how to swim in the musi- 
cal element, but is less at home in the rhythm of blank and 
£ree versie, and does small things best. Its usual adequacy 
makes most criticism seem greedy*. 

Before passbg to criticism that is unfair, there are one or 
two chatges that can fairly be made. In the first Sonnet, in 
City of Islands, I and II, in Three Letters, and The Akron, 
the rhetoric strains but fails to capture the meaning alive, 
and most of the associations are sterile. In the small lyrics, 
the Vbcabul^fe odcasionally more brittle and abstract than 
it need be. *TEIect,” ‘‘expiate,^* ^^immaculate,^^ “essential,” 
The bony portion Emily Dickin- 
son% voeabtuaj® appears so much lately in otir lyrics that 



Well-made Lyrics 


we begin to feel these words are being used, not for their 
own sake, but because Emily Dickinson and a few others 
have used them well. Or perhaps it is her metaphysical turn 
that is here and elsewhere being overdone, for the same 
reason. But Before Rain, Fenwick, Return, Christmas Card 
are free of this fault, as of most others. 

If It is the privilege of criticism to be greedy, the reader 
may ask why this book, as a whole, is unsatisfying. Take 
the lyric. Old Books, It rises proudly: 

Sappho’s dark hyacinth, 

Prospero with his rod, 

Achilles in his tent^ 

Saint Francis praising God: 

but slides away: ‘^That are more lovely than your life, More 
actual than you.” And other poems end as follows: ^Tears 
not dying, having died long since.” *‘How in the end it 
will avail him nothing at alL” ‘‘He is dead, my bird, he is 
dead.” ‘'The hands atug at the rope Arc scarcely more 
than dust.” And the heart 

Finds image thus in the uneaten fruit. 

The disappearing birds. 

The mood of this poetry is the earpe diem which has been 
fertile for lyric poetry^ because sjoch poetry shone against a 
backiground of old age and death, and often achieved a tragfe 
regret. Winter4nming grieves over tJb passage of tjnae!, 
but the regret i$ not tragic; only melancholy, ksmm dbe 
time was passed almost for the sake of regrei^dilg* 

An^ (Mmnim 


1355] 



POETRY : A Magazine of Verse 


“every word is intentional'’ 

The World at My Shoulder, by Eunice Tietjens, The 

Macmillan Co. 

The amazing thing about Eunice Tietjens' book of remi- 
niscences, The World At My Shoulder, is the great variety 
of experiences it records. She was born in Evanston, and 
if there is or was a perfectly fresh-water creek in the whole 
of America it is that suburb of prohibition and evangelism, 
where Frances Willard held forth for so many years. But 
the strange American psyche turns up in unpredictable ways. 
The youth born in Ipava, Illinois, dies in India, and his 
ashes are scattered on the Ganges. From the far west 
came John Reed who found his grave near the Kremlin, 
George Cram Cook lies somewhere in Greece. This shows 
that fresh water clams originated in the sea, and that some 
of thmi retain salt which eventually carries them back to 
ocean water. From a reading of this book one does not 
get the idea that Eunice Tietjens has been a restless spirit. 
But thaijt; she ha? been venturesome and keen for adventure 
is plain enough. 

Her fathser yyas a banker who died under tragic circum- 
ssUinces, but who left enough for his widow and children to 
be comfortaM© Upouj In Evanston she had for a schoolmate 
that Margmwte Wilkinsofi who during the days of poetic 
rage m America# publidhed anthokgieig and books of criticism. 
One thing to be cooled is that Miss Tietjens' career has been 
ijiterrnpted again and again. Her father’s death at thirteen 



Every Word Is IntentionaV^ 


s^nt her off to Paris in charge of a mother of strong vitality. 
It was during the days of the Dreyfus excitement. After- 
wards there was Dresden, where Miss Tietjens discovered 
Ibsen’s plays and Wagner’s music. Then Paris again where 
at nineteen she married Paul Tietjens, the author in con- 
junction with Frank Baum of The Wizard of Oz. In Paris 
she knew Isadora Duncan. 

The marriage was not successful, and after three years 
abroad she was back in Evanston, where she was fortunate 
in having the literary association of Henry Kitchell Web- 
ster, and later in Chicago of George Cram Cook. This 
was about 1911, when Francis Hackett was editing the 
literary supplement of The Chicago Evening Post, 

With everyone who ever writes authentic poetry the time 
comes when the nature of poetry is revealed. One night 
Floyd Dell was reading ‘*When the hounds of Spring are 
on winter^s traces”, and descanting upon that melliferous 
chorus. Poetry? Poetry is certaiiJy that chorus, as the 
young then believed, and as the old believed with a confi- 
dence that nothing disturbed. But at that meeting Cook 
took down Whitman and read *'Come, lovely and soothing 
death”. We gather that it was the reading of Whitman 
that showed Miss Tietjens that poetry is a live things a 
vital, significant expression of the spirit of man. So she 
began to Write verses herself. Swinburne was a great poet^ 
but to other poets he passed only metrics, not life* It tooh 
old Chapman, after the richness of Spenser, to op^n the eyes 
ogt Keats. 


[ 357 ] 



POETRY : A Magazine of Verse 


Through reading and through schools in America and 
abroad Miss Tietjens by this time was well read. She was 
a linguist too. And now the thing happened that took her 
the way for which she was prepared. Harriet Monroe 
founded Poetry^ and everyone who was ready for that 
event had the chance to participate in its career. She joined 
the staff of Poetry^ where she became friends with Sara 
Teasdale and Zoe Akins, Alice Henderson, Lindsay, and 
the men poets who in company with the women poets drew 
to that magazine like steel filings to a magnet. Her words 
about Harriet Monroe are tender and just, showing the 
sterling qualities, the genuine capacity for loyal friendship 
of that memorable woman. 

It is impossible not to feel resentment at the interruptions 
in Miss Tietjens’ life, considering her talent and the poems 
she has written, despite travels and illnesses. Her life in 
Jqpan and in inner China, and here and there in Europe, 
stored her mind with material for poems but deprived her of 
the tranquility in which poems can be written. Then came 
the World War, and she sailed to France as a correspondent 
jfot die CtAcOigo DMy News. In France she went through 
danger and through hardriiip, and seems never to have 
quailed. One chapter in this book thriDs with horror, and 
lifts with adnairarion for the courage that she showed in the 
lane pf great peril. It is the dhapter entitled *‘I Ride with a 
Coirpse*’, whidi tells of the death of Mademoiselle de la 
Valcttc^ who oarcte# picked up a haxmlcjss loofeii® stick on 
a battle field. It wias a kind of bomb, and its eaplosit^ tore 



'"Every Word Is Intentional' 

tlie body of the unfortunate woman into pieces. Miss Tiet- 
jens all night went about from one military station to an- 
other trying to give the body burial, and at last braved all 
the pickets and guards on a long many-mile ride to Paris, 
where she delivered the body to relatives. 

After the war she was back in Chicago, and on the staff 
of Poetry again. Then after a divorce from Tietjens she 
married Cloyd Head. This was fortunate in every way. 
For he is as brave as she is, as imreckoning of likely con- 
sequences, as indifferent to the need of money. They have 
lived in Tunisia, in the Sahara desert, whither they went on 
a purse that the average person would not trust as far as 
Grand Rapids is from Chicago. But always they came 
through happily. In Tunisia she and Cloyd Head saw the 
life which they made into the play Arabesque^ The play 
had a Broadway production, and should have succeeded, one 
feels, after reading what it was about and what was done 
to it in its direction. The two of diem were pretty well 
down after that flop, but they rose and went traveling again. 

This is a very honest book, and of fascinating interest. It 
is fluently and beautifully written. Eunice Tietjens has 
seen what many writers have only imagined. Now that 
her travels seem to be over-r—far travels, at least — she ean 
devote herself to poetry. ^ In that field she has mar^ 
poems to her credit. But above poems is the character <rf 
the woman, which for bravery, good will, sense of huinor; 
uncomplaining endurance, has few if any paraJWs in thn 
annals of American women. Mastm 

[ 35^3 



POETRY: A Mag ax in e of Verse 


NEWS NOTES 

The public interest in poetry gains momentum. One sign of 
this is the reception given to our recent federal Poets* Number. 
The newspapers were unusually generous in the amount of space 
they accorded us. For example, Harry Hansen devoted a large 
section of his column in the World-Telegram to an editorial on 
the special issue, in which he commented: ^^There are few writers 
today arguing that poetry should be completely divorced from 
realities. Indeed, I have seen no competent statement of that kind 
in ten years. But Mr. MacLeish had a point to make — ^that poetry 
alone could fire the imagination with the vision of a new world 
and become again ‘the one deliverer of the people * . . The poems 

seem to have been chosen with great care, for few are combative 
and crude. There are several references to Spain, but in nearly 
every case the emphasis seems to be on literary value rather than 
timeliness.” Richard L, Leekley, reviewing the WPA number in an 
impressive four-column spread in the Minnesota Leader, observed: 
“Many persons do not read poetry at all after they leave school. 
To those who left school ten and twenty years ago an exciting 
discovery is therefore in store. American poetry is slowly return- 
ing toward the essential core of living which most of us know 
well. This collection shows it” And Isabel Paterson, in the 
Herald^Trihune, took the issue as a text, or pretext, for a column 
of enjoyable ragging, in which she applauds Mr. MacLeish’s senti- 
ments but complains that the writers as a whole are doing little to 
solve* the weighty questions they propound. Quoting a phrase 
from one of the poems, she suggests: “Why not consult the 
ectoplasm of Innnaouel Kant?” 

A particularly thoughtful and well-written review, and one 
calculated to arouse much controversy, was the article by Simon 
Wells in the Daily Worker. It begins; “The July issue of Poetrt 
. , . confirms the knowledge that here, on a relief project, arc 
some of the ablest poetic talents in America.” But this review 
goes on to assert that great mass of poems . . . show a com- 
plete lack of forthright emotion, share the same practice of taking 
Btlje droplets of reality and filtering them through layers and layers 
of irony and introspective analysis until all sense of something alive 
is lost . . - piese poets, like the magazine Pqetry itself, engaged 
!n a battle hor freedom of the artist, but by not seekmg a base 
in the battle for the freedom of the A,]nierican people, merely ran 

1360] 



News Notes 


fbr the most part from Babbitt into the Wasteland.* They fought 
the academicians merely on the basis of language and form, and 
made of poetry an instrument so marvelously fashioned that it 
couldn’t be used for anything, a cup so delicate that nothing could 
be poured into it • . . We think these poets should consider care- 
fully the questions raised by MacLeish. We do not think he has 
phrased the problem perfectly. In his eagerness to display the 
senselessness of oppression in the world today, and to bring home 
the fact that the greatness of an artist is measured by his greatness 
as a man, as a leader and thinker, he over-reaches himself. . . . 
But basically his challenge hits the mark, and it should be pon- 
dered deeply.” 

Poets who are contemplating book publication will be interested 
in a report on the publishing field made by B, A. Heimbinder for 
the Poetry Society of America. Some of the leading publishers 
were asked to explain their policy in regard to poetry. Out of 
eleven who reply, seven show themselves more or less unfavorable 
to the idea of publishing books of verse by new writers. Three 
of these — D Appleton-Century, Lippincott, and Little, Brown 
— announce that they cannot consider poetry at all. Henry Holt 
& Company “publish from two to four books of poetry a year” 
and “would not be able to consider the work of unknown writers 
unless of unusual distinction ” Dodd, Mead would welcome “one 
in a thousand.” Longmans, Green “do not refuse to publish poetry, 
but would publish only what we feel to be a most exceptional piece 
of work.” Scribner’s “publish on an average about two new vol- 
umes of poetry a year.” 

Of those who respond more favorably, the Macmillan Company 
is “always interesting in considering manuscripts of poetry” and 
“will promise to give them careful attention.” Alfred A. BIhopf 
reports: “We do not limit our poetry pubications to a definite 
number nor to established poets.” Harper & Brothers “do not 
at a large poetry list” but ‘^welcome pew material for consideratio® 
at any time.’^ And Farrar & Rinehart reply that ^1f a manu^scrlj^t 
of poetry has outstanding quality and we are genuinely entosUr 
astic, we would publish it, even if we suspected that we nsdiJht 
lose money by doing so.” 

It should be noted that several firpis with outstanding poetry 
lists, such as Random House, Harcoutt, Brace, Houghton 
Viking Press, Putnam’s, etc., are not represented in fhis i^ort if 
replies from these firms had been Included, the results m^ht ht^t^ 
seemed more encouraging. 

[ 361 ] 



POETRY : A Magazine of Verse 


Amy Bonner is completing, for Poetry, a similar investigation 
of the magazine field, asking the editors of the lea^ng American 
periodicals to formulate as clearly as possible their attitude to- 
ward poetry. Their replies are of interest not only as a guide 
to the specific verse requirements of the magazines, but for the 
insight they give into the reaction of the general reading public. 
The results of Miss Bonner^s survey will be published in an early 
issue. 

Two new (quarterly magazines, both featuring the work of 
younger writers, deserve notice this month. 

&even is edited by John Goodland and Nicholas Moore at the 
Poplars, Taunton, England. It is publishing stories, poems, and 
book-reviews by British and American contributors, including such 
poets as George Barker, D. S. Savage, Rulhvcn Todd, J. L. 
Sweeney, and Keidrych Rhys. The format is well-designed and 
the work presented of high quality. 

Acorut a distinctly readable newcomer, also prints stories, articles 
and reviews, as well as poetry “from a socially progressive per- 
spective.” This magazine, which is edited by John Sidney and 
associates at 72 Barrow Street, New York, welcomes particularly 
the young unpublished poet The summer issue brings to light 
some vigorous new talent and gives the reader good value for 
his ten cents. 


NOTES ON CONTRIBUTORS 

AimtE HUSTON EVANS was bom in New Hampshire in ISSl. She 
spent her childhood on the Maine coast, was educated at Radclifl^e, 
md served overseas with the A.E.F. during the war. She is the 
author of two books of poems, Outcrop (1928) and The Bright 
North, just published by Macmillan. In 1930 she received our 
Qnarantors Pri^ 

OSCAR wiLWABfSi a New York advertising man, published his first 
book of po«ns in 1921, when he was twenty years old. At that 
tirtte he stored writing poetry and did not begin again until 1937. 
mn poetns have appeared recently in The New RepuUic, Life & 
Miners Today, Scrikner^s, eta, and in the New Anthology of Mod^ 
f^etry editedi by Sejden Rodman. 

WZm, tH well-inowB English poet, was editor of 
The Tnger Book of Mo^m Fer^e and is the author of a recent 
prose yolnme, The Modern Mhd, reviewed in our May issue bv 
Refuel Denney. 


[ 362 ] 



Notes on Contributors 


^ MAY LEWXS> a native and resident of New York City, has con- 
tributed frequently to Poetry since 1925. A book of her poems, 
Red Drumming in the Sun, was published in 1931 by Kiopf. 

RALPH GUSTAFSON, of Sherbrooke, Quebec, but now living in 
London, was introduced to our readers last December. He is the 
author of a book of poems, The Golden Chalice, and of a play 
in verse, Alfred the Great 

HERMAN GUND has done editorial work in New York and Penn- 
sylvania since graduating from Columbia in 1935. His poems 
have appeared in various magazines and anthologies. 

The following poets make their first appearance here: 

JULIAN SYMONS is a member of the younger group of English 
poets and editor of Twentieth Century Verse, He is preparing an 
article on W. H. Auden, to appear in a future issue of Poetry. 

ELIZABETH BOHM, of New York, was bom in London, the daugh- 
ter of the American painter. Max Bohm. Her poems have ap- 
peared in The North American Review, Commonweal, The Sat- 
urday Evening Rost, etc. 

CARL BOMBERGER is a teacher of English in the Pleasantville, 
N. J., Senior High School 

w. G. VAN KEUREN was born twentir-five years ago in Pittsburgh, 
attended Pennsylvania State College, and has lived for the past 
fifteen years in Watertown, Mass. 

This month’s prose contributors are all familiar, harold Rosen- 
berg, of New York, has appeared frequently here as poet and 
critic. He recently edited the Federal Writers’ Project number 
of Direction, The essay by Archibald m^^ekh in our July issue,, 
to which Mr. Rosenberg replies, was one of the most widely quoted 
articles ever published in Poetry. Although resident in Europe 
for the past thirty years, EZRA pound has played a dynamic jmrt k 
the American poetry movement His most recent book is JPtAr 
Wifth Decad of Cantos (Farrar & Rinehart). Bdgar lee 
a,ul^r of the famous Spoon River Aetthology and mai:^ other vot- 
unaes, ha$ been a contributor to PoE^Y sipoe the earliest yhars^ 
babettb drutsch, whose latest group of poems appeared ifs our 
August issue, is the author of dm critical ’This Momr^ 

Roetry, rolfe Humphries was co-editnr of the anthdbgF cM mcr 
ballads, And Spdn Smgs^ He was reoaotk appomted to a 
genheim Fellowship, ANNE CHANtOTG, has 

viously as a pocf, lives in Hubbard Wooda, ffl- Sdie is ffcd m 
painter, Fairfield jPoTter* 



POETRY: A Magazine of Verse 


BOOKS RECEIVED 


ORIGINAL verse: 

The Bright North, by Abbie Huston Evans. Macmillan Co. 

The Spider and the Clock, by S. Funaroff. International Pub- 
lishers. 

Mirrors of Venus, by John Wheelwright. Bruce Humphries. 

Salutation to Valediction, by Sherry Mangan, Bruce Humphries. 

My Cape Cod, by Sarah Dixon. Bruce Humphries. 

Third Person, by Brian Coffey. Europa Press, London, England 

Lyrics of the Nile, by C. B. Ashbee. Oxfoid University Press. 

Spectrum, by Elvia Graham Melton. Chapman and Grimes, 
Boston. 

Poems, by Charlotte Corbett Antioch Press, Yellow Springs, Ohio- 

Poems, by Greta Rowell. Shakespeare Head Press, Oxford. 

Stationary Verse, by Delacourt Kell. Saunders Studio Press, 
Claremont, Calif. 

Idle Hours, by Lise Perrilliat Fowler. Arthur H. Stockwell, London. 

Selected Poems, by Mary Gray. Priv. ptd., Hartford, Conn. 

Masks and Gypsy Music, by Amey Smyth. Poetry Publishers, 
Philadelphia, Pa. 

Smoke Around the Sun, by Gladys Brown Denison. Henry Har- 
rison. 

Verses, bjr Evalyn Schaffle. Henry Harrison. 

This Limng Urge, by Lorraine Patterson. Henry Harrison. 

Many Voices, by Helen Wieand Cole. Henry Harrison. 

Out of the Bog, by Harold Strong Gulliver. Henry Harrison. 

Rhymes of the French Regime, by Arthur S. Bourinot. Thos. Nel- 
son, Ltd., Toronto. 

Mleven Poems, by Arthur S. Bourinot Priv. Ptd., Rockcliffe, Ot- 
tawa, Canada. 

Challenge to Fear, by Leslie Ault Branch Publishers, Woodstod:, 
% Y. 

First Sun, by Leo Joseph Allard Whitney Press, Buffalo, N. Y. 

Moods of the Moment, by Thornton Lovelace. Arthur H. Stock- 
well, London. 

MMstream'^Midmght, by Robert GoIdsboScough. Priv. Ptd., N. Y. C, 
ANtaOLCXStES^ 

The Rilver Branch, An Anthology of Old Irish Poetry, edited by 
Sean OTaofain. VSdng Pre*** 

Winged Cargoes, edited by Dion O^Donnol^ Odell Francis, and 
Eugene Phillips. Wagon Sc Star, Los Angeles. 

[ 364 ] 



MAINE BALLADS 

By 

ROBERT P. TRISTRAM COFFIN 

The poet of the Pulitzer prize 
winner^ **Strange Holiness** pre- 
sents here a book of verse about 
Down Easters ^ as real as 
huckleberries and bayberry 
candles. $1.75 


The BRIGHT NORTH 

By 

ABBIE HUSTON EVANS 

A volume of short lyrics which 
reveals a new and mature t<dent^ 

The poems deal with erreryday 
matters in a New England coun^ 
tryside. $1*75 

at any bookstore 

THE MACMILLAN COMPANY 

60 Fifdi Ave^ New YcmtIc 




to advertutrs fbmse mnUka 


PARTISAN REVIEW 

ARTISAN REVIEW ts by far thejtvehest monthly 
that current Engltsh literature can show'* 

— A. Desmond Hawkins in THE CRITERION 

In the August-September issue: 

F. W. Dupee: THE ENGLISH LITERARY LEFT 
the poetry of W. H. Auden, Stephen Spender, Louis Mac- 
Keice and their circle ... its background in the society 
and politics of modern England ... its literary sources 
and evolution. 

Other features: 

Knos^iUe: 1915, a story by JAMES AGEE 

Art and Pobitcs, by LEON TROTSKY 

The Recent Soviet Cinema, by Dwight Macdonald 

SPECIAL TRIAL OFFER: Four issues for $1 


PARTISAN REVIEW 

22 East 17Ui St, New York, N. T. 

Oentlemeii: I enclose $1 ($125 for Canada $ $1 50 for the rest of 

t e world) for please smd roe the neafct lour issues of 

ARTISAN REVIEW. 

and State 


i^^eriiswt please meii^m Voemct 



A New Antkology 
of IMoJem Poetry 



A 

RANDOM 

HOUSE 

BOOK 

$3.00 


Edited, and with an introduction hy 
SELDEN RODMAN, including 
representative poems hy 

ROBINSON JEFFERS • T S ELIOT • EDNA ST 
VINCENT MILLAY * JAMES JOYCE • STEPHEN 
SPENDER * W H AUDEN • D H LAWRENCE 
ROBERT FROST • HART CRANE • DOROTHY 
PARKER • CARL SANDBURG • C DAY LEWIS 
ARCHIBALD MACLEISH • STEPHEN VINCENT 
BENET • JOHN MASEFIELD • ELINOR WYLIE 
A EHOUSMAN ♦ AMY LOWELL • WILUAM 
BUTLER YEATS • HORACE GREGORY • EDWIN 
ARLINGTON ROBINSON - WILLIAM ROSE BENET 
E E CUMMINGS • WILFRED OWEN « MURIEL 
RUKEYSER • LOUIS MACNEICE • WALLACE 
STEVENS • AND OTHERS 


^ Fast Neza Book Service 

We ANNOUNCE with pleasure a new Book Service 
Department for the convenience of Aose riders who h^ 
difGlculty in buying books of Verse and criticism advertised 
in Poetry or else^erc. 

This service may be had vVithout extra charge simply by 
sending us a chedk or money-order covering lie r^tdar pttb- 
li^er^ price of the book or bocfc wRiltcd* All orders w!|I 
be ^led at once, and^ postage be prepaid. Vfh 
supply my book in print. ^ 

Addr&si BOOK SERVICE DEPT, 

POETRY, 232 EAST PRIE ST., CEOCAGO, J3UU 

i t'li ) n t |i , ’ ^ 


To have great poets 

there must be great audiences ioo. 

— ^Whitman 


Editor 

GEORGE DILLON 


Associate Editors 

JESSICA NELSON NORTH 
PETER DEVRIES 


Business Manager 

GERALDINE UDELL 


Advisory Committee 
EUNICE TIETJENS 
LEW SARETT 


Associate Committee 

ROBERT MORSS LOVETT 
PERCY H. BOYNTON 
THORNTON WILDER 

of the University of Chica^io 


Eastern Business Representative 
AMY BONNER 



In comparing 

the actual yearly income of a poet with 
that of men of science, men of profession, 
brother artists and the man with a lunch- 
pail, we find thcit laurel is still the form in 
which society as a whole is willing to pay 
its debt to the poet. 

Send for our new booklet entitled 

"ABOUT INCOMES: 

The Poet's and Some Others" 

and make these comparisons for yourself. 

The Academy of American Poets 

435 East 52nd Street 
NEW YORK 


when tLormn0 ^io ad<verUsirs pleau mention Poetry